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Firefighters protest at Sol

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While the dispute between several firefighters and the municipality was yet to be resolved, public safety still remained the top priority

PROTEST: About 20 firefighters protested in front of the fire station in Lyndhurst Road early yesterday morning. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A LABOUR dispute between staff and management at Sol Plaatje Municipality’s emergency services will not be allowed to endanger the lives of the public.

This is according to the spokesperson for the municipality, Sello Matsie, who said that while the dispute between several firefighters and the municipality was yet to be resolved, public safety still remained the top priority.

Protesting at the municipal offices yesterday morning, a group of about two dozen firefighters called for the executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, to intervene and ensure that their demands are met as a matter of urgency.

These demands included the payment of outstanding wages, some of which allegedly date back as far as 2014, which they claimed only needed the signatures of the relevant authorities to be approved and paid out.

“We delivered a memorandum to the mayor’s office in March but have had no feedback,” the disgruntled firefighters said yesterday. “We are demanding that he (Matika) address our concerns and stop allowing himself and his mandated administrative position to be undermined.”

They also claimed that previous efforts to have the matter resolved had proven futile, with attempts to discuss the issue with their supervisor, Sol Plaatje Municipality emergency services senior manager Tinus Pretorius, apparently falling on deaf ears.

“He (Pretorius) is extremely arrogant and threatens us with our livelihood when we raise concerns.

“Propaganda is being used against both the firefighters and politicians and while all the relevant documents and approvals have been drafted, they have deliberately not been signed as a delay tactic.

“If we do not get answers and the back pay due to us, we will need to consider our options.”

Matsie confirmed that there was an ongoing process regarding unhappiness over labour matters within the Fire Department by some workers.

“We would like to emphasise that while we remain committed to resolving labour disputes in the workplace, proper procedures should be followed and not place the lives of the public in danger,” said Matsie.

“It should also be noted that the particular environment is mainly an essential service.

“As a means to resolve the dispute a bargaining council mediator was appointed to look into the matter.”