Johannesburg firefighters on a 'go slow'

2015-07-20 08:26

(Amil Umraw, The Witness)

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Johannesburg - Firefighters in Johannesburg are on a ''go slow'', with their demand for overtime being referred to arbitration, the city's emergency services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said on Monday.

In the meantime, in the hours that they don't work, staff who are normally station-bound such as station commanders, supervisors and managers, are responding to callouts.

This winter has kept firefighters busy, with fires in a crèche, blocks of flats and informal settlements.

Mulaudzi explained that the firefighters normally work 48 hours a week with four-day shifts of two days on, and two days off.

To make up the 48 hours, they work an extra two hours a day.

However, they want to be paid for those extra hours, and are currently only prepared to put in 40 hours a week, unless they are paid overtime for the extra hours.

The dispute has been discussed in a bargaining council, and has been referred for arbitration, Mulaudzi said.

List of grievances

Earlier this year, two firefighters, Daniel Zwane, 50, and Michael Letsosa, 34, died in a blaze in a basement of the Nedbank Mall on Albertina Sisulu Street, Johannesburg, cracking open a list of grievances about firefighters' lack of equipment and working conditions.

At their memorial service, many firefighters turned their backs on officials delivering speeches. An investigation into their deaths was ordered.

To add further woes to the country's firefighting efforts, the organisation Working on Fire's aircraft were grounded last week.

This was after the South African Civil Aviation Authority suspended the organisation’s air operating certificates for failure to comply with legal requirements.

Working on Fire said 14 of their aircraft had been grounded and at least 6 000 people ''on the ground'' were available to assist until the problem was rectified.

Read more on:    working on fire  |  johannesburg  |  fires

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