Court interdict against striking firefighters

2013-06-07 00:00

THE stand-off over salary cuts between firefighters and the Msunduzi Municipality has resulted in council getting a Durban Labour Court interdict against the employees.

The interdict was issued on Wednesday and unions have until today to lodge an appeal against it.

The court interdict was filed by the Chief Fire Officer, William Paton, on behalf of the municipality ordering the firefighters to go back to working their normal shifts according to the roster.

This after firemen began working only from 6 am to 2 pm on May 24. They claimed that the municipality had been paying them for only eight hours per shift instead of 12 hours, the actual hours worked per shift.

In his affidavit, Paton said this has affected the municipality financially because they have had to get the services of Indiza Airport Management to look after the Pietermaritzburg Airport and activate the services of Rural Metro Fire Management to make up for the shortfall of firefighting staff required per shift.

“It is recorded that the firefighters are embarking on an industrial action by intentionally refusing to obey the shift system of the fire department, and therefore directly retarding and obstructing the proper work and functioning of the fire department, being an essential service as defined by the Labour Act,” said Paton in the affidavit.

South African Municipal Workers’ Union full-time shop steward, Lucky Zimu, said they would not be taking this lying down.

“Our lawyers are working on a submission, which will be made today when we appeal this court interdict because we have strong grounds to do so,” said Zimu.

Zimu said in the affidavit the municipality failed to mention that firefighters were working 12-hour shifts, but were only getting paid for eight hours worked.

“We are not fighting with the employer, but our problem is with the junior managers who failed to implement resolutions taken on March 28, which had been agreed by unions, human resources, the deputy municipal manager and the municipal manager,” he said.

Zimu said the municipality was using courts to enslave poor workers. “Nobody should work and not be paid,” he said.

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