South Africa: 202 Joburg Firefighters Dismissed After Illegal Strike

Around 200 firefighters have reportedly been dismissed from the City of Johannesburg after an unauthorised strike.

The dismissal is due to an illegal strike by union Demawusa earlier this year, according to a report by eNCA.

The dismissal was confirmed to News24 by Demawusa spokesperson Dion Makhura. However, the union has received no official communication from the City, he said.

A strike in July followed accusations by firefighters that Emergency Services Management were not adhering to the National Health Act. Some of the firefighters were also reportedly forced to live in an unsafe building.

During the strike, firefighters refused to attend to emergency calls made to the Jabulani, Johannesburg Central, Ivory Park and Rosebank fire stations, citing that some of the allocated duties assigned to them as basic life support officers were in fact duties to be performed by the intermediate life support officers. The firefighters also requested around the clock escorts from the JMPD when responding to emergencies, News24 previously reported.

City of Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi confirmed that 202 employees were dismissed for a range of charges, including gross insubordination, dereliction of duties, acting in a manner that is in breach of their employment contact or job description, acting in a manner that is unlawful, and bringing the name of the City of Johannesburg into disrepute, following an illegal strike.

"During July 2019 it came to the attention of the City of Johannesburg Emergency Management Services management that several of its employees ... were participating in an unprotected strike," Mulaudzi says in a statement.

The City then issued an issued an ultimatum for employees to return to work immediately, failing which they would be dismissed. However, after the strike, some firefighters did not return to work and the City obtained a court order from the Labour Court, which interdicted the striking firefighters from illegal action. In September, the City suspended 230 firefighters.

"We want to reassure our residents of the City of Johannesburg that we will continue to render effective professional emergency services at all times," Mulaudzi adds.

"It's a very difficult situation we find ourselves in as an organisation [and] we are doing our best to make sure that service delivery is not disrupted."

Standby staff will be recalled if necessary, along with volunteers and overtime staff.

The dismissed firefighters have seven days to lodge an appeal.

Source: News24

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