Fire-fighters down hoses

Employees of the Middleburg fire department have downed tools, citing management's failure to pay for overtime and being forced to work long hours.

Employees of the Middleburg fire department have downed tools, citing management's failure to pay for overtime and being forced to work long hours.

The strike began late last week, the SA Municipal Workers Union said yesterday.

"The fire-fighters have been forced for years to work 24-hour shifts without being paid overtime or a danger allowance," Samwu provincial secretary Kgokedi Mphahlele said.

Mphahlele said if management did not immediately resolve the matter, "7000 workers" in the province would go on strike.

He said instead of negotiating with the workers, the department had sent out threatening letters to personnel. "In 2004, we reached an agreement that no fire-fighter would be permitted to work excessive hours, but the employer refused to implement it.

"The matter was taken to arbitration and we had a ruling in February 2008 ordering the municipality to pay overtime and to stop forcing fire-fighters to work excessive hours, but they have defied this." - Sapa

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