Today's Labour News

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CapeTownlogoNews24 reports that the City of Cape Town's fire and rescue service is taking strain as a labour dispute over a standby allowance and working hours deepens.  

Over the last few months, officials have been battling it out with the two unions representing firefighters – the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu).  Nearly all members of Samwu are said to be boycotting voluntary overtime hours in protest over the amount they get paid while on "standby".  After a lunchtime picket by off-duty firefighters at the end of last month, the union officially informed the City it would be withdrawing from a collective agreement that determines working conditions to enable a 24-hour service.  Apparently some of the 30 stations across the peninsula have experienced worrying shortages as officials play a juggling game to ensure there is enough capacity amid the dispute.  Firefighters work an average of ten 24-hour shifts a month.  Under contention are 80 of these 240 hours, which are classified as "standby" hours, but which firefighters feel are equivalent to working hours because after a normal day of active duty between 09:00 and 18:00, firefighters are required to remain at the station until 09:00 the next morning on standby.  The City's Richard Bosman refers to this period as "down time" and operational staff thus get paid a 22.8% allowance in terms of the collective agreement.  But firefighters stressed that they received the allowance only, no salary, for standby, Sundays and public holidays.

  • Read this detailed report by Jenna Etheridge in full at News24

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