Workers at fire stations on strike

2010-06-03 00:00

FIREFIGHTERS from the Working on Fire organisation yesterday downed tools and demonstrated at the main offices in Howick, protesting about alleged poor wages and poor working conditions.

At least four groups of firefighters from around the midlands were supposed to be part of the strike, but only two groups, totalling 50 members from KwaGubeshe in Vulindlela and from Howick station, took part.

A firefighter who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation said they had taken the drastic step to protest against the organisation during a fire because they had raised their concerns with the management to no avail.

“We are denied due process in many matters in this organisation. For instance, women working here do not get maternity leave, and during the fire season we are expected to work long hours and no provisions are made to compensate us for that,” he said.

The source said there was also no job security.

“We are paid R68 per day. When we joined the organisation, we were offered a two-year contract and when it expired we were given a year contract, and now we are on a month-to-month contract.

“After we raised our concerns about the working conditions without any action being taken, we decided to join the union, and after that the management put us on a month-to-month contract.”

The workers warned that their protest would intensify if the management fails to address their concerns.

Khaye Nkwanyana of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the union that represents the firefighters, said he has met the management and they have scheduled another meeting for next week.

“There are some serious concerns with the workers’ contracts, their working conditions and general treatment of the workers …” he added.

Zanele Nxumalo, spokesperson for Working on Fire, declined to comment, saying she she was not aware of the strike.

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