CT firefighters turn up the heat over pay

2016-09-01 17:13


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Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille visited Khayelitsha Fire Station to thank the staff for their outstanding work in responding to fires.WATCH

Cape Town - A group of firefighters have turned the heat up on the City of Cape Town, saying they are tired of being paid intern rates for facing the same flames as older colleagues.

“That has been the case for eight to nine years,” SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) senior organiser Charles Hlalanathi Gagayi said on Thursday.

He said new firefighters earned intern rates when they started, and this stayed the same even after they received their certificate of qualification and their badge.

They were challenging this with the help of Samwu at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

“They are fighting fires just like all the others. If there is a fire on Table Mountain; if they are rostered they are extinguishing the fire.”

There could be a difference of as much as R5 000 between the pay of a learner firefighter, and a firefighter, he said.

They accepted that the more experienced firefighters would earn more, but it was not fair to keep them on intern pay for so long.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one firefighter said they got on the training programme with no qualifications in firefighting - just a matric certificate and a driver's licence. They had to be 18 or older.

They were employed as learner firefighters and trained at the Cape Town training academy. When they qualified they were sent to work at fire stations, and were on probation for up to 18 months.

Even though they faced the same fires, after the 18 months they were still earning their intern salary.

“Our colleagues and us learners are performing the same functions. So we went to the CCMA on the grounds of equal work, equal pay.”

City of Cape Town Fire Chief Ian Schnetler confirmed the hearing at the CCMA.

He said the action was by permanent or professional firefighters who were trying to bypass the city's Advancement Policy to reach the next level in the organisation. Further written argument was requested by the commissoner, and there was no outcome yet.

They had not been suspended or fired.

Read more on:    ccma  |  cape town  |  fire department

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