Firefighters march to the Civic Centre, demanding overtime pay and better working conditions. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Firefighters around Cape Town who refused to work overtime unless they are compensated will be working regular hours again until a final hearing on the matter is heard on November 29 in the Labour Court.

The City said an interim agreement between itself and the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) was reached in the Labour Court yesterday, which applies to all firefighters in Cape Town, regardless of their union affiliation.

“In the coming weeks, the parties will be required to file their heads of argument in preparation for the hearing in the Labour Court. The City of Cape Town remains committed to resolving the ongoing dispute as speedily as the legal process allows, so that we can move forward,” said executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman.

In terms of the agreement between the two parties, the City said firefighters would honour the terms of the existing collective agreement relating to their 24-hour shifts and standby allowance, with the City in turn lifting all suspensions and disciplinary proceedings against its employees arising from conduct in relation to the dispute from October 1, when the workers began their boycott.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks to those firefighters and volunteers who have helped us keep the service going over the past week. In spite of the challenges, they have remained true to the ethos of the Fire and Rescue Service,” said Bosman.

Twenty-four fire stations across the City took part in the boycott for overtime pay, working from 8am to 4pm five days a week, with only six stations fully operational.

John Mcanjana, Samwu provincial secretary, said while the matter had not yet been concluded, the Labour Court’s decision is a step in the right direction.

“All along we have been wanting the City to come to the fore and negotiate with us, because not only will the boycott affect them and Samwu but it will also negatively impact community members when they need the fire and rescue services,” said Mcanjana.

Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said firefighters and management needed to work together in the interests of the city.

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