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NUMSA condemns Working on Fire for exploiting workers!

23 November 2017, Posted in Press Releases, Uncategorized

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) condemns Working on Fire for the rampant exploitation of workers. Firefighters at Working on Fire are being paid R2200 per month. Our members are denied benefits like paid annual leave, provident fund, maternity leave, overtime pay, they are not even covered for medical aid, and yet the kind of work they do puts them in harm’s way every single day! Our members risk their lives putting out fires for just R102 per day! The organization is justifying these slave wages by claiming our members are part of the Expanded Public Works Program (EPWP) which is government’s abusive temporary employment program.

NUMSA has consistently rejected government’s EPWP program because it exploits workers by denying them direct full time employment with benefits and a living wage. Fire-fighting is an essential service and it should not be a function which is outsourced to the private sector. Organizations like Working on Fire take advantage of the poverty and desperation of the working class by employing them in appalling conditions and paying them poorly.

On its website Working on Fire brags that they are a “pioneer and global leader in providing integrated fire management solutions at local, provincial and a national level”. But they fail to mention that they have to abuse workers in order to achieve this. Furthermore, were it not for the commitment and dedication of our members, they would not be the global leaders they claim to be in this sector.

NUMSA has lodged a wage dispute with the CCMA over this matter. Our members are categorized as essential services which means it must be settled through arbitration because they cannot go on strike.

These are some of our demands:

  • We demand a living wage of R12 000 per month
  • 1 year wage agreement
  • Overtime pay and benefits like provident fund, medical aid etc.
  • Paid annual leave eg. Maternity, paternity and annual leave

Our members are grown men and women who are devoted to protecting and ensuring the safety of the environment from the damaging effects of a fire. They risk their lives protecting private property. We believe that our demands are justified because our members deserve to be able to raise their families with dignity. They cannot do that on a salary of just R102 per day.

NUMSA condemns Working on Fire for objecting to arbitration through the CCMA. They are clearly opposed to paying workers a living wage and treating them with the humanity they deserve. The company also claims that NUMSA has no right to represent workers on this issue, and this is blatantly false! The Labour law gives us the right to fight for workers.

NUMSA has made submissions to the CCMA on this matter. We hope that the CCMA will help us put a stop to this exploitation by dismissing their objections. The CCMA is expected to make a decision on this by the middle of December.

Aluta continua!
The struggle continues.

For more information contact:
Phakamile Hlubi
NUMSA National Spokesperson (Acting)
Cell: 083 376 7725