We’ll only attend emergencies, say fire-fighters on go-slow

2013-04-08 00:00

FIRE-FIGHTERS in Pietermaritzburg have been on a go-slow since last week to get Msunduzi Municipality management to intervene in a salary dispute.

Their grievance is aggravated by the lack of response from management after it was given 48 hours in which to address their concerns last month, according to the fire officers

They have have decided to respond to emergency calls only, they say, because the municipality does not seem to be interested in resolving the matter,

In terms of the regulations governing essential services, fire-fighters are not allowed to strike.

The problem started when the council stopped paying night shift, overtime and Sunday allowances, which they believe they are entitled to.

“We lost out on R3 000 to R6 000 last month and the problem is we do not know whether it is the council that is implementing this decision or it is our fire department management or human resources,” said a fire officer, who declined to give his name for fear of victimisation.

He said their shift system was different from that of other municipal staff because of the nature of their job.

The fire-fighters said that if the municipality wanted to save money, it should have cut managers’ car and cellphone allowances.

“We would not be doing other general stuff like cleaning the fire engines and the workshop, which is what we have been doing,” said the fire officer.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said: “I have to indicate that the implementation of the new conditions of service is a resolution of the bargaining council, which council has an obligation to implement.”

He said there had been several consultative meetings with the unions, management and fire department staff on these issues.

“If there are issues where further clarity is required, there are channels to do so.

“We are not aware of a planned go-slow, and trusting the integrity and discipline of the fire department, this is not expected to happen,” said Zuma.

He said in an extreme event, the management would be forced to consider contingency options because fire-fighting was an essential service.

Tomorrow, the fire-fighters will meet at the main fire station in Pietermaritz Street for an update.

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