Cape Town – Canada has asked South Africa’s singing firefighters to go home after they downed hoses in a pay dispute, Working on Fire (WoF) said on Saturday.”The Canadian government has asked us to get them out of Canada as soon as possible,” said Johan Heine, chairperson of the board of Working on Fire.
But Heine said the team has indicated that they will not leave until they receive confirmation that their pay demands will be met. ”They are demanding their money before they leave, and [that they] get confirmation that they get more money.” ”We all feel very terrible about it,” said Heine, who has been a firefighter for 30 years.
A Working on Fire management team arrived in Edmonton, Canada on Saturday morning and would travel with a South African embassy official to Alberta where they are based, to negotiate and pick a date for their return.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported online that Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley promised to intervene.
CBS quoted Notley as saying that it was not acceptable to her and her government that they would have people working for wages in that do not align with their labour laws. She said every firefighter from South Africa or anywhere else would be compensated “in accordance with our laws in this province.”
Not skimming, paid ‘three times’ Heine said Working on Fire wanted to refute claims that the government funded job creation initiative was skimming from the $170 a day the Canadians were paying, and only paying firefighters $50 a day.
”They were getting R720 a day while they were there, and suddenly they are demanding R300 more a day. So they get paid three times.”
He said they earn their normal salary – between R100 to R650 a day depending on their seniority, plus a R70 a day away from base allowance, plus a R50 a day out of country bonus. ”So they get paid three times.” But things quickly soured when some of the firefighters heard that local firefighters were paid $11 an hour.
Heine said although the Canadian per hour rate is higher than what they would have received, the Canadian firefighters only receive this while on the fireline.
The South Africans would have been paid their agreed amounts for every day that they were on the mercy mission, including their travel days, preparation days once there, and their rest days.
This, WoF believes comes to more than what the Canadian firefighters would earn. The Canadian firefighters work 12 hour shifts, with three to four rest days. ”They get paid $50 from the day they leave…everyday, regardless of if they work or not.” WoF thought this formula was fairer on the firefighters.
If the South African Firefighters demands are met about pay, they will earn more than the Canadian firefighters.
When they get home, they will face internal disciplinary action over the sudden strike.’People in emergency services are paramount and are not supposed to strike,” said Heine, a firefighter of 30 years.”We would like them to stay, but I think there’s no chance.”
In conclusion there was no mercy mission here it is and always was about the pay and free stuff, even though Johan Heine, chairperson of the board of Working on Fire and the South African government had good intentions, the minds of the workers cannot be changed as this happens in South Africa all the time.
– Exceerts from News 24, Social networks and Google