Firefighters clock out of the Roeland Street Fire Station at the end of their day at 16h30, leaving just 4 members at the station. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town - The City has started issuing suspension letters to firefighters who are participating in a strike over overtime pay.

This is according to SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) spokesperson Dumisani Magagula, who said the firefighters were not fazed by the city’s scare tactics.

“We started striking on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, six guys had reported that they received suspension letters from the city; it was confusing as to why only these six people received letters when 70% of fire departments in Cape Town are with us in the fight for decent remuneration for working overtime,” he said.

More than 200 firefighters marched to the Civic Centre last week to demand pay for working overtime, stating that if they did not receive a response from the city, they would be working from 8am to 4pm.

Yesterday was the second day that the firefighters had worked eight-hour shifts, with Samwu representatives stating that previously firefighters had worked between 72 and 80 hours a week on average.

“So far we have had no communication from the city with regard to coming to some sort of agreement on this matter. On Tuesday, we met representatives from the Department of Labour; they have been trying to get in contact with the city to discuss the issue,” said Magagula.

Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security, said there were fire stations affected in terms of staffing when Samwu members heeded the call not to work standby hours. “The city’s fire service can confirm it has started issuing letters of provisional suspension,” he added.

On Monday, Bosman said the service would initiate disciplinary steps against staff who refused to work the standby hours, as they would be in contravention of their conditions of service.

Magagula said the city had started hiring new recruits to take over in the evenings. They “are not fully-fledged firefighters so, basically, student firefighters have been left to man these stations”, he said.

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