Joburg firefighters allege poor working conditions, maladministration

Genevieve Quintal, News24

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Co-operative Governance's disaster management unit has expressed disappointment at allegations of poor working conditions and maladministration made by Johannesburg firefighters.

"We can say that we are aware of issues affecting Emergency Services in City of Joburg (COJ) and other municipalities, we are however oblivious of any corruption and maladministration within COJ fire services," head of the provincial fire and rescue services Elias Sithole said in a statement.

He said management was engaging with the fire chief of COJ to find a way to deal with the allegations.

According to The Star newspaper, a group of disgruntled firefighters from stations across the city had aired their grievances on Wednesday, after they failed to get management to resolve the issues.

The group reportedly insisted that the COJ was misleading the public about the state of fire stations in the city.

In July, firefighters went on a "go-slow", demanding overtime for the extra two hours they worked per day. They were meant to work 40 hours a week, but as they were classed as an essential service, they worked for 48 hours a week.

A firefighter told News24 that the City did not care about its firefighters, given the way it responded to their grievances.

Sithole on Saturday pleaded with the firefighters to give management of COJ the opportunity to deal with the issues without interference, so that they could find a solution.

"These allegations are of a serious nature. We as province cannot sit and do nothing. We are however allowing COJ to deal with the matter internally at the moment and just monitoring and will intervene should the need arise," he said.

Sithole assured people that the province's fire and rescue services were fully functional and operational.