Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Fraserburgh fish boss defends punishment for woman who spoke Polish at work

Magdalena Konieczna
Magdalena Konieczna

The boss of a north-east fish processing firm yesterday defended the decision to discipline an employee who spoke her native Polish at work.

Whitelink Seafoods in Fraserburgh introduced a new rule last year, banning staff from speaking anything but in English during working hours.

The firm say it is to ensure there is “better communication” on the factory floor and to improve safety.

But payroll administrator Magdalena Knoieczna has accused the firm of race discrimination, and is suing them for unfair dismissal after she was sacked last June shortly after being given a letter containing a number of allegations – one of which referred to her talking to a colleague in Polish in reception.

An employment tribunal got under way in Aberdeen in April, and resumed yesterday.

Director James Sutherland, who oversaw Mrs Knoieczna’s appeal against her dismissal, yesterday insisted she had “refused” to follow the rules – despite being able to speak English.

He dismissed her claims that 90% of the workforce could not speak English, and said supervisors had graded their teams as “poor”, “basic” and “good” – with about 17% being described as the former.

Asked by solicitor Angela McCracken what impact the policy would have had on her client, Mr Sutherland replied: “I don’t think it would have affected her because of her ability to speak English quite fluently even though it’s not her mother tongue.”

Miss McCracken suggested the aim of creating better communication among workers was being undermined if those with poor English skills feared the consequences of failing to comply with the ban.

But Mr Sutherland insisted: “We have to take every individual person on a case by case basis. If they had no English or are very poor, we can’t force them to learn English within a certain period of time.

“But for a person who can speak English but made the choice to speak Polish, there has to be repercussions for that. That’s a refusal.

“You can’t have a rule in place if you’re not going to enforce it.”

Tribunal judge Nicol Hosie suggested it depended who Mrs Knoieczna had been talking to, and said it would be the most “natural thing in the world” for her to communicate in Polish if her colleague did not understand her English.

Mr Hosie will consider the evidence, along with written submissions, before making a decision on the case in the coming weeks.

Already a subscriber? Sign in