Report: SA firefighters in Canada embroiled in pay dispute

South African firefighters in Alberta to help tame a wildfire didn’t report for duty on Wednesday because of a dispute over pay‚ a Canadian website reported.

CBCNews said the Working on Fire members “who made international headlines for singing when they arrived in Canada have now turned to protest songs over the wages they’re being paid”.

A week ago‚ TMG Digital reported that‚ fearing they would be seen as “slave labour”‚ Canadian officials had jacked up the pay of the South African firefighters.

CBCNews said the dispute was prompted by “news articles…claiming the workers are making between $15 and $21 an hour”‚ and quoted one of the firefighters‚ Bitiro Moseki‚ as saying: “It’s 15 not even per hour‚ it’s 15 per day.”

The site claimed to have seen a contract “between the firefighters and their employer” that “stated they would be paid a total of $50 a day‚ split into two payments… $15 a day now‚ with the balance of $35 a day paid out within six months of their return to SA”.

“We are not here for money‚ we are here to assist you‚” said Moseki‚ adding the firefighters have turned to the South African commissioner in Canada for help to resolve the issue.

The 301 South African firefighters’ rousing singing after they touched down in Canada caused a viral sensation on social media last week.

The buzz over the video clip prompted messages of gratitude from Canadians‚ including Michael Edward Merriam‚ who posted on Facebook: “A big thank you to these South African firefighters and to all the other international crews for coming to help with this fire”‚ and Lorraine O’Connor who wrote: “Many thanks! You have left your homes and family to help us!”


2 thoughts on “Report: SA firefighters in Canada embroiled in pay dispute

  • June 11, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    $50 a day is way more than they could probably earn in South Africa, and holding the bulk of the pay until these ‘temporary’ workers repatriated is entirely sensible. If the US institutes any kind of ‘guestworker’ program that has to be a requirement, otherwise the ‘guests’ will never leave! If you doubt that, just ask a German or a Frenchman!

  • June 9, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    Thats about R800 per day. I’ll go and work for that.


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