Cape Town’s firefighters are back at work until a formal application pertaining to a dispute over standby allowances is heard in court. According to the City of Cape Town, the firefighters are returning to their regular working hours.

This directive is applicable to all City firefighting staff, regardless of their union affiliation.

The matter is expected to be heard in the Labour Court on November 29, and until then, the City will lift suspensions and disciplinary proceedings will be brought against firefighters who work to rule instead of overtime.

The firefighters are also expected to honour an existing agreement related to their 24-hour shifts and standby allowance.

“The City of Cape Town remains committed to resolving the ongoing dispute as speedily as the legal process allows, so that we can move forward. We would also like to express our sincere thanks to those firefighters and volunteers who have helped us to keep the service going over the past week, in spite of the challenges. They have remained true to the ethos of the Fire and Rescue Service,” said Richard Bosman, City spokesperson.

Speaking to News24, South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) organiser Archie Hearn confirmed the agreement, saying that firefighters were briefed on their return to work on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 8.

“We will return today on the 24-hour shift system to normalise the working environment,” said Hearne. “Members have agreed and showed a willingness now in the meeting. We are satisfied to the extent that there is a process laid out.”

There has been a disagreement about firefighters’ allowance since September, and the City laid blame on SAMWU for what they called a “misinformation” campaign. SAMWU reportedly claimed that firefighters work for 240 hours per month instead of the contracted 160 hours.

Picture: Western Cape Government

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