Following the scandal over anti-Semitic carnival dummies paraded in Aalst last weekend, the city’s world-famous carnival came under fire once again during the week over a photo posted by a member of the public. The photo, placed on Twitter, shows four women dressed in colourful African-style clothing, and wearing black make-up. The photo has the slogan “Droi daugen as mamadou” – local dialect meaning “Three days as mamadou” – a common African name used in a derogatory sense for a black person.
The account where the photo appeared belongs to an employee of the TUI airline, which was itself taken to task for the off-duty behaviour of its flight attendant. The company responded on Twitter with a statement:
“We would like to react to the tweet of one of our cabin crew, posted as she participated to the Aalst Carnival last weekend. As a company, TUI explicitly and totally condemns any for of discrimination, and we distance ourselves from all tweets that in any way or form suggest anything else. We do not identify with the tweets from this particular cabin crew, and we will engage with her to make sure she understands TUI will not be associated with this kind of language. TUI holds its values of being a Trusted, Unique and Inspiring company to the highest of standards, and even if these words might not have been ill-intentioned, we expect better from our crew. We sincerely apologise to all who are offended by these tweets. We are too.”
In a later tweet, TUI said the affair was “ private matter for the employee” and stressed her right to take part in the carnival, which it described as “a playful event”.
The flight attendant has not been sanctioned, the airline said, and quite rightly, according to a labour expert quoted in De Morgen: “Sacking or suspension is only possible when an employee causes damage to the company, and that is not the case here,” said Patrick Humblet, professor of labour law at Ghent university. “It strikes me as unlikely an employment tribunal would ever get involved in this case.”