EMS stay-away continues

2009-06-06 14:19

Johannesburg - Emergency Services workers continued to stage a stay-away on Saturday, saying they will not return to work until their wage dispute issue was resolved.

Led by the SA Municipal Worker's Union (Samwu), the workers downed tools on Tuesday, saying the EMS management had failed to implement a salary progression agreement agreed on last year.

"There's no way we can go back to work. They [EMS management] say they never committed themselves to implementing the salary progression on May 1, but we do have concrete proof... we recorded them committing themselves to this and we have taken the tape to the city manager," union representative Zanele Khumalo said.

She said they will be meeting with City of Johannesburg officials on Tuesday to try and resolve the issue.

"As I'm speaking to you, no ambulances and fire trucks are available so if the city can encounter a major fire today [Saturday] there really is going to be trouble," she said.

Samwu spokesperson Dumisani Langa also said the workers were not back at work but insisted that they were not on strike.

"It is not a strike. A strike is when we have a grievance... we just want the implementation of the agreement we had reached. Members want answers from management," he said.

Contingency plans

Johannesburg EMS management denied it had reached an agreement with Samwu on wage progression.

Spokesperson Percy Morokane said they had contingency plans in place should there be a major emergency in Johannesburg.

"We do have people working and should a need arise for reinforcement we will call in private emergency personnel. We haven't reached a critical stage," he said.

He said however that they were "working around the clock to resolve the issue" between them and the union.

"We are committed to resolving the issue," he said.