The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has threatened to march to the Civic Centre on Saturday in a bid to convince City bosses to not fire more than 500 firefighters. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)
The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has threatened to march to the Civic Centre on Saturday in a bid to convince City bosses to not fire more than 500 firefighters. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Samwu threatens protest in support of Cape firefighters

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Cape Town - The SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) has threatened to march to the Civic Centre on Saturday in a bid to convince City bosses to not fire more than 500 firefighters.

The union, under the “Back to Work Campaign (B2WC)”, will be staging a march in support of decent work and working conditions in the City.

Samwu deputy regional secretary Bridgette Nkomana said they would be marching so the City could resolve the issue of the 525 firefighters “who allegedly did nothing but stand up for their rights as employees of the City”.

The firefighters are facing disciplinary hearings for refusing to “work as required”. Their letters of notice from the City stated that the workers allegedly committed wilful gross misconduct when, during the period between October 1 and 8, 2019, they participated in an unlawful strike by refusing to work according to the shift system.

The City confirmed that a disciplinary process was currently under way.

“It should be noted that disciplinary action against any employee of the City is an internal matter and dealt with in terms of the disciplinary code of the local government bargaining council.”

The City said the current shift agreement, to which Samwu was a signatory, had 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.

In a leaked email between Samwu and a City official, the union said that it was willing and prepared and open to consider favourably a settlement offer and concede that the firefighters accept the sanction of a final written warning with a suspended sentence of four days’ unpaid leave.

However, it said that should its proposal not be favourably considered, it would have to consider alternative recourse, which may lead to major repercussions in future.

Safety and Security’s acting executive director, Vincent Botto, said that in as much as Samwu was entitled to act in the best interests of its members, the City, as an employer, was entitled to institute the necessary disciplinary proceedings, when warranted, against its staff members.

Botto advised that the City would now accept that the employer’s proposal had been rejected by Samwu and the disciplinary proceedings would therefore proceed.

Cape Argus

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