More than 500 firefighters in the Western Cape could face dismissal this week after disciplinary procedures were instituted.
The large group of workers gathered outside the Civic Hall on Tuesday, March 30 in solidarity with those appearing before a disciplinary hearing.
This dispute comes exactly two years after the City of Cape Town firefighters had grievances over working hours.
ENCA reported in 2019 that the normal basic Employment Act says firefighters must work 40 hours, but they’re working 40 to 70 hours and those hours were not being reimbursed by the City.
It is alleged that workers at the time claimed that the long hours had a detrimental effect on their well-being and were not in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and international best practice.
They have also demanded that they be paid overtime for hours worked after 4.30pm.
The City then took the matter to the Labour Court which ruled that in the absence of a new agreement, the existing one was valid but also urged the parties to enter into negotiations towards establishing a new one
In a statement by regional secretary for The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), Mikel Kumalo said despite their attempts to engage with management to enter into negotiations on a new agreement through a collective bargaining, the efforts had failed, IOL reported.
“It is not our intention to disrupt the service but if this long-standing grievance is not resolved amicably there is potential that the Fire Service will be disrupted.”
Kumalo said a new agreement would have to take into consideration the safety and well-being of firefighters while creating space for more staff to be employed.
He also warned that dismissals would affect hundreds of families and was not an ideal way to handle the matter in a Covid-19 climate which had led to job losses.
Meanwhile some of the 525 workers faced charges for participating in an illegal strike while another faced an additional one of incitement.