Cape Town - The union representing firefighters has called on the City of Cape Town to speedily resolve and enter into a new fire service agreement for the firefighters, alleging that senior fire managers have claimed huge standby allowances.
SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) representatives alleged that the City decided to derail the compulsory arbitration process held between firefighters, their union representatives, the City, and facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Tuesday.
Samwu's regional secretary, Bridgette Nkomana, said unexpectedly the City representatives requested the recusal of the CCMA commissioner from the arbitration process.
“This after all parties agreed to the appointment of the very same commissioner. It is now abundantly clear to Samwu that the City has adopted the Stalingrad strategy of delaying the process, which will have huge financial implications for ratepayers,” Nkomana said.
She said firefighters affiliated to Samwu had nearly lost their jobs when they went on strike in October 2019.
She said their demand was for a new collective agreement, and to stop senior fire managers, earning between R800 000 and R1 200 000 per annum, from claiming standby allowances of between R16 000 and R23 000 per month.
Firefighters had also gone on strike against an out-dated collective agreement of 2007, she said.
“This out-dated agreement is not in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, and the Labour Relations Act,” Nkomana said.
She said senior managers in the fire department were fighting tooth-and-nail to keep the old agreement dating back to the apartheid era in place.
A firefighter, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, said all they were asking for was to be paid for their hours at work, and nothing more.
City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said it was unfortunate that Samwu had chosen to raise the matter in the media as they were well aware that it was the subject of a dispute in arbitration proceedings under the auspices of the South African Local Government Bargaining Council, where all parties’ positions would be considered.