joburgcityThe Citizen reports that nearly 20% of the City of Johannesburg’s firefighters were in their fifth week of suspension with partial pay, when they appeared at the Labour Court on Thursday.  

The more than 200 workers, mostly members of trade union Demawusa, were challenging their suspension, contending that it was unlawful and unfair.  They were also challenging the Emergency Management Services’ (EMS) decision to only partially pay their salaries, stating it was against the bargaining council collective agreement.  EMS’s legal team relied on a Constitutional Court ruling that the Labour Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on whether a suspension was unlawful.  They argued that the dispute between the parties as covered under the Labour Relations Act could be resolved through other means, but not the court.  Demawusa’s attorney countered with a slew of judgments supporting his argument.  He said the firefighters’ refusal to attend callouts over the alleged non-assignment of supervisors did not constitute a strike, because the workers were simply refusing to break the law.  But, the EMS was adamant that there had been no breach of regulations.  Judgment was reserved on both the workers’ bid to have the court rule on the fairness of their suspension and the employer’s bid to have the court declare that the worker’s actions before their suspensions constituted a strike.

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