Firefighters marched to the Civic Centre to demand overtime pay and better working conditions. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town on Monday warned of possible disruptions within its fire services amid threats by unionised firefighters to stop working standby hours.

In a statement issued by the City of Cape Town's executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said the City had put in place contingency plans as fire season looms.

"The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service has put in place contingency plans in the event that firefighters affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers Union proceed with their threat to stop working their standby hours," Bosman said.

City firefighters staged a march last week demanding to be paid for overtime worked, stating that every week they went well beyond the regular number of hours expected.

However, the City has hit back at these claims, labelling as false that firefighters are not paid for overtime work.

The City's statement said it has an overall firefighting staff complement of 900-plus and at any given time, there is a minimum of 240 firefighters on duty at the 30 fire stations across the metropole.

In terms of union membership, approximately 60% of staff are affiliated to Samwu, the City added.

"The minimum resource requirement for a fire station is one fire engine and a maximum of six staff members," Bosman said. "Critical fire stations have already been identified where a minimum level of service will still be available to the City."

It added that should Samwu members refuse to work the standby hours, the Fire and Rescue Service will:
- Redeploy staff on duty to critical fire stations where any staff shortages may occur
- Call on day-shift staff on the standby roster to man critical appliances (vehicles)
- Call on staff on their rest days to make up any staffing shortfall
- Call on assistance from neighbouring municipalities in terms of a standing agreement, in the event of major incidents

"In addition, the Fire and Rescue Service will initiate disciplinary steps against any employee who refuses to work the standby hours, as they would be in contravention of their current conditions of service.

Furthermore, there have been threats of intimidation and staff on the receiving end of such threats have been encouraged to report these incidents, so that they can be investigated and action taken against the responsible parties."

Bosman added that the City of Cape Town remains committed to resolving the ongoing dispute with Samwu but also honouring its service delivery mandate.

African News Agency (ANA)