Firefighters demand fair wage

Supporters of the firefighters calling for a fair wage outside Mitchells Plain fire station on Wednesday September 26.

Mitchell’s Plain firefighters used their lunch break to hold a placard demonstration outside the fire station in Westridge on Wednesday September 26 when they demanded a fair wage from the City of Cape Town.

This follows months of talks and meetings among disgruntled employees to have their voices heard.

The firefighters are not allowed to down tools because they provide an essential service.

Many of them fear victimisation and, not wanting to transgress protocol, either refused to speak to the media or wanted to remain anonymous.

The firefighters said they work 240 hours a month but the City was only paying them for 160 hours; 80 hours short.

A firefighter told the Plainsman that they are paid an allowance of 22.8 percent of their hourly rate when they are on standby and not the 1.5 times extra as per the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), which regulates working hours.

This agreement between the City and firefighters was signed about 15 years ago, which stipulates that firefighters are allowed to work outside of the BCEA.

The firefighters feel they have been short-changed.

A firefighter ordinarily works 24 hours, eight of which is in the form of a shift , while the other 16 hours will be on stand-by at the station.

They are demanding 79 percent of their hourly rate to cover their additional hours.

They work about 10 shifts a month.

“We can’t go home like other departments but have to be at work away from our families,” he said.

Firefighters get paid the same, whether they work on a Sunday or public holidays.

“They are threatening the firefighters who speak to the media. They don’t want this to be in the spotlight,” said another firefighter.

Richard Bosman, director for safety and security for the City, said they were aware of the protest action by fire and rescue personnel.

“We are currently engaging with personnel through their trade unions on the matter in order to reach an amicable resolution,” he said.

Mr Bosman said the City was committed to finding a solution in the interest of rendering an effective service to communities.