Law Enforcement officials attended to reports of off-duty firefighters occupying several fire stations across Cape Town this morning. An employee from Somerset West Fire Station told Deen Times that Law Enforcement has been called in to remove all employees who are not suppose to report for duty today.
More than 500 fire fighters took to the streets last week to protest over extra working hours and claimed that they were not being paid for it. Cape Town’s firefighters warned that they will clock in at 08h00 and leave at 16h00 come October 1.
“The City of Cape Town is playing the rumour that we are rioting at the fire stations, but we are not. We are just sitting and standing around. Law Enforcement officials responds to the reports, and when they get here, they cant do anything to remove us from the property because we are peaceful.
“This is the City’s way of threatening us firefighter. We are not happy with the working hours and the poor payments we receive for it.
“Other than our lives being at risk, we also spend about 60 hours a week and almost 300 hours a month at work. Sometimes, we are forced to work much more hours throughout the day and night because of continuous fires,” one firefighter told Deen Times.
SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) represented the disgruntled firefighters at the protest and have sent a formal complaint to the Labour Department for the appointment of an inspector to investigate the City.
Meanwhile, the City’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman said the City is preparing for a possible disruptions in its fire services.
He said the City’s Fire and Rescue Service has put in place contingency plans in the event that firefighters affiliated to the Samwu proceed with their threat to stop working their standby hours.
“The City has an overall firefighting staff complement of 900+. At any given time, there is a minimum of 240 firefighters on duty at the 30 fire stations across the metropole.
“In terms of union membership, approximately 60% of staff are affiliated to Samwu. The minimum resource requirement for a fire station is one fire engine and a maximum of six staff members.
“Critical fire stations have already been identified where a minimum level of service will still be available to the City.”
He warned that should Samwu members refuse to work the standby hours, the Fire and Rescue Service will redeploy staff on duty to critical fire stations where any staff shortages may occur, call on day-shift staff on the standby roster to man critical appliances (vehicles), call on staff on their rest days to make up any staffing shortfall and call on assistance from neighbouring municipalities in terms of a standing agreement, in the event of major incidents
“In addition, the Fire and Rescue Service will initiate disciplinary steps against any employee who refuses to work the standby hours, as they would be in contravention of their current conditions of service.
“The City of Cape Town remains committed to resolving the ongoing dispute with SAMWU but also honouring its service delivery mandate,” Bosman added. (Deen Times)/ (Image: Supplied)