Illegal firefighters strike: City of Joburg says essential services will not be affected

2019-09-20 21:47
 (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

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The City of Johannesburg says emergency management services (EMS) will not be affected by the suspension of 230 firefighters who embarked on an illegal strike. 

"The City is conscious about its employees' rights and will always be progressive in advancing these rights, however, we cannot be held to ransom by illegal strike action," the MMC for public safety, Michael Sun, said in a statement on Friday.  

In July, Sun said, a strike management task team was formed to address concerns after about 230 firefighters went on strike, adding most members then returned to their normal duties.

"The striking firefighters refused to attend to emergency calls made to the Jabulani, Johannesburg Central, Ivory Park and Rosebank fire stations, citing that some of the allocated duties assigned to them as basic life support officers were in fact duties to be performed by the intermediate life support officers. The firefighters also requested around the clock escorts from the JMPD when responding to emergencies," Sun said. 

Another meeting was set up between management and firefighters.

Sun said 127 employees, however, refused to return to work. 

"The City, thereafter, notified the participating firefighters about the illegality of their strike, which was not protected by law. Despite this, the participating firefighters continued with their illegal strike and refused to attend to their duties. This not only affects the City's emergency services but had the potential of putting residents' lives in danger." 

Sun said the City had obtained a court order from the Labour Court, which interdicted the striking firefighters from illegal action. 

"These firefighters are now in contempt of court as their actions are in direct contravention of the court order.

"Furthermore, in accordance with the South African Local Government Bargaining Council Collective Agreement, procedures are outlined for employees to lodge grievances. However, in this particular instance the firefighters who refused to return to work even after EMS management's interventions failed to adhere to the set process," he said. 

Sun assured residents emergency services would not be affected by the strike and 109 ambulances would continue to run across Johannesburg. 

- Compiled by Vanessa Banton

Read more on:    ems  |  michael sun  |  labour
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