The City's firefighters protested against a looming mass disciplinary hearing of more than 500 firefighters who are facing charges of misconduct by the City. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
The City's firefighters protested against a looming mass disciplinary hearing of more than 500 firefighters who are facing charges of misconduct by the City. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape firefighters facing mass disciplinary hearings march to Civic Centre

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Mar 31, 2021

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Cape Town - More than 400 firefighters facing disciplinary hearings for refusing to "work as required" marched to the Civic Centre on Tuesday, demanding Mayor Dan Plato's intervention.

SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) regional secretary Mikel Khumalo said Plato should intervene and instruct the City officials to withdraw the charges against their members.

Khumalo said the union would defend its members with everything it has to avoid job losses.

According to the notice of a disciplinary hearing, the workers allegedly committed wilful gross misconduct when, during the period between October 1 and 8, 2019 participated in an unlawful strike by refusing to work according to the shift system.

The firefighters protested at the Civic Centre, demanding Mayor Dan Plato's intervention. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

The notice, signed by Clinton Manuel, the disciplinary hearing initiator, stated that as fire services were deemed an essential service, strike action was prohibited.

"Your actions placed or potentially placed the operations of the fire services at risk, directly contributing to the limited/decreased service delivery to the communities, which potentially placed life and limb, properties and or assets at risk. The City views your conduct in a very serious light and will deal with it as such."

One of the leaders, Bridget Nkomana, said it was high time that they join hands through their back to work campaign to get the City to enter into a new agreement which would be in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Nkomana said the charges against the firefighters showed that management had not transformed since the apartheid days.

"We as Samwu members have worked under difficult conditions, sacrificing our lives during the Covid-19 lockdown to protect the members of the public, and today the City is thanking us with a threat of mass dismissal," she said.

City spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo said disciplinary action against any employee of the City was an internal matter and dealt with in terms of the Disciplinary Code of the SA Local Government Bargaining Council (SALGBC).

Tyhalibongo said the current shift agreement, to which Samwu was a signatory, has been declared valid and binding in terms of a Labour Court Judgment and remained in force until a new agreement was negotiated between the parties.

Cape Argus

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