The City of Cape Town (COCT) has confirmed that it has not yet taken a decision to dismiss over 500 firefighters amid reports by the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU).
As reported by IOL, SAMWU has threatened to march to the Civic Centre on Saturday, May 1, in a bid to convince City bosses to not fire more than 500 firefighters. The COCT has placed it on record by written confirmation to both SAMWU and IMATU that it is willing and ready to review the collective agreement on firefighters working conditions at any time.
The City confirms that no decision has been taken to dismiss over 500 firefighters as falsely claimed by SAMWU and that a proposal has been made to resolve the matter so that any possible sanction of dismissal can be avoided.
— City of Cape Town (@CityofCT) April 30, 2021
However, SAMWU is the only party delaying a new collective agreement for firefighters by submitting unreasonable demands. SAMWU’s demand that the standby allowance is 79% of the basic salary which will amount to nearly R250 million more per annum. The City has previously offered 35%, up from the current 22.8%, backed by an independent arbitration recommendation, which parties had voluntarily entered into. This offer was rejected by the union.
The Labour Court dismissed SAMWU’s case in March 2020, declaring their actions not only illegal but vexatious. To date, the COCT has a 24-hour shift system in place that upholds all collective agreements between the City and all unions representing firefighters, including SAMWU.
On average, a firefighter works 7,5 hours more per month than other City employees. In 2019, they took part in an illegal strike against long working hours and the City of Cape Town’s pay structure, EWN reported. According to a statement by the COCT, if the union is not happy with the outcome of collective bargaining talks, the law even grants them the option of compulsory arbitration, with a full opportunity to argue their corner to an independent panellist. The statement indicated that SAMWU is actively delaying a new deal for firefighters because they know their 79% demand is unreasonable and unaffordable.
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