Court victory for City workers

2019-03-14 14:35
File image of a fire truck.

File image of a fire truck.

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After eight years of being underpaid for Sunday shift work, Msunduzi firefighters will finally be paid by the municipality as ordered by the Durban Labour Court on Wednesday.

The court ruled on Wednesday that the municipality is and was, since March 2011, obliged to remunerate the fire department employees for ordinary hours worked on a Sunday at two times their normal hourly rate.

The papers said the firefighters contended that the Sunday pay provision first came into being through the collective agreement that was concluded in 2000.

The agreement was renewed in 2006, including the Sunday pay aspect, and then renewed again in 2010.

The judgment said from around June 2010, the municipality started to renege on its obligations regarding Sunday pay.

“At the time, the municipality had been placed under administration and its administrator, [Johan] Mettler, erroneously considered that it was entitled to ... breach the municipality’s contractual obligations regarding Sunday pay,” said the judgment.

“Subsequently in December 2011, the municipality acknowledged it was obliged to pay its employees for Sunday work” at double time.

Employees were back paid from 2010 up to March 2011.

The municipality claimed in court papers that the Sunday pay provision was altered by an agreement concluded by the Mettler administration and the altered agreement stated firefighters should be paid “at one and a half times” the employee’s hourly wage.

Wednesday’s judgment ruled that the municipality must remunerate the fire fighters for Sunday pay since March 2011.

Attorney Brett Purdon, who represented the firefighters, said on Wednesday that the judgment was “good for the fire workers”.

“The municipality had been underpaying the workers for a very long time.”

He said he had represented over 100 firefighters and said that remuneration costs were still being calculated.

One of the firefighters, who asked not to be named, said they were “very happy” with the judgment especially since they had been waiting eight years for the matter to be resolved.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality has received the judgment and “we are currently studying it. We will further comment on the matter at a later stage”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  firefighters
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