The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAWMWU) in the Cape Metro Region has been made aware that the City of Cape Town is continuing with its discriminatory practices within the Fire and Rescue Department. SAMWU Cape Metro Region is yet to fight another battle of unfair discrimination practices after that of the pregnant female fire fighters.
Female fire fighter are losing allowances when they became pregnant. The City is punishing female employees for giving the gift of life. The City’s argument is that they became operationally unfit to perform fire fighting duties due to pregnancy. The Chief of Fire and Rescue Department Mr. Ian Schnetler has recently introduced a physical fitness process without complying with the health evaluationassessment regulation in terms of the Health and Safety Act, which all lower ranking fire fighters are required to undergo in order for them to continue enjoying some of their allowances and work over time. Does Mr Schnetler think that he miraculously fell from an aeroplane? Was it not a woman who gave birth to him?
The standard set in the physical fitness test doesn’t take into consideration age, pregnancy and chronic sickness. We have had reports and grievances from members who collapsed and some are hospitalized after the physical fitness test because they had been overworked. Workers are forced to overwork their bodies so they do not lose their monthly benefits by either failing or not participating in these rigorous training. Some of our members have sustained injuries on duty during the assessment are now subjected to incapacity proceedings.
SAMWU is concerned that the training may result in the incident at Harry Gwala Stadium in KZN where people died after participating in a recruitment fitness test.
SAMWU has noted with concerned and disgust the racist tendencies of the City, the City continues to set Black and Coloured workers against each other. Coloureds in Safety and Security are not promoted to senior positions, they also are not allowed to chair hearing against their white colleagues. The City only uses them when it wants to dismiss their black colleagues.
The department is losing a lot of its staff because of the fitness assessment. Fire fighters are resigning in numbers while some are forced to take early retirement. Those who raise concerns and dissatisfaction gets victimized and subjected to occupational detriment. These are some of the unresolved issues that are negatively affecting our members, hence our strike action on the 31st Oct 2014.
SAMWU therefore calls for the immediate resignation of Chief Mr. Ian Schnetler. We cannot allow our members to be used by his department to perpetuate racism within the City. We also cannot allow Mr Schnetler to force our members to self inflict pain in the name of benefits.
Schnetler MUST GO, NOW!
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions