Scores of firefighters facing possible dismissal and or disciplinary action marched on the City of Cape Town offices yesterday in support of demands for better working conditions.
The march, which also commemorated Workers' Day, brought traffic to a halt on some of the city's busiest streets as the workers also made their way to the Democratic Alliance offices.
The firefighters were also joined by other workers whose job contracts with the City had been terminated.
They demanded that Mayor Dan Plato receive a memorandum of demands which called for better working conditions and remuneration in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCOEA).
However, they were met by City officials who received the documents on behalf of Plato. About 525 firefighters are facing disciplinary action after a dispute over long working hours.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) said 439 of the firefighters faced charges for participating in an illegal strike in 2019 while 55 faced an additional charge of incitement.
In 2019, union members decided they would no longer work a 56 hour week as part of the pre-1994 Fire Services Agreement, an action which the Labour Court later ruled was illegal.
Samwu regional organiser Archie Hearne said the City was reluctant to negotiate a new agreement which would see working hours reduced to 40 a week, overtime paid according to the City's policy and in line with the Act.
"Even though the firefighters are receiving a 22.8 % allowance, this is also extended to managers who are not on the frontline. Some metros offer a far better allowance to their firefighters. But what we want now is an eight hour working shift and any extra hours worked will have to be compensated for using what the Act and the City's Overtime Policy allows for," Hearne said.
He said an eight hour shift would improve workers' well-being and ensure that more unemployed people would also get jobs.
"Some of the workers have years of experience but their contribution is not being recognised by the City," Hearne said.
They also demanded a danger allowance.
The workers also marched on the DA offices in Mill Street, Gardens, halting traffic on the busy street.
The union called on the governing party to intervene or face the risk of losing votes in the upcoming local government elections on October 27.
"If the DA doesn't intervene they face the risk of losing votes. We will punish the party at the polls," the union said.
However, no one was at the office to accept the memorandum.