South African firefighters arrived to fight the Fort McMurray fire in the highest of spirits but are now leaving because of a wage dispute. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is resolved to solve the problem. We see about a dozen black South African men in the Alberta bush next to a dark anti-fire vehicle on tractor treads. The men are wearing bright yellow shits, dark grey pants and hard hats. Their arms are raised in dance. Smiles crease many of their faces.

South African firefighters arrived to fight the Fort McMurray fire in the highest of spirits but are now leaving because of a wage dispute. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is resolved to solve the problem.
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Notley steps into Fort Mac wage dispute


Remember those 300 South African firefighters who arrived last month singing and dancing to help battle the devastating wildfire in the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray.

Turns out, things didn’t go so well.

Most of them walked off the job Wednesday and Thursday because of wage dispute.

Their South African contractor, it seems, was pocketing a great deal of their pay.

And that’s not sitting well Premier Rachel Notley.

She says the province contracted with the South African Agency, Working on Fire, to pay the firefighters about $170 a day.

Working on Fire denies it agreed to that figure and is paying the firefighters $50 a day for 12-hour shifts.

That’s about $4 an hour, far below the provincial minimum wage of $11.20 an hour.

Notley said Thursday that’s the minimum the South Africans must be paid.

“I can say right now that every hour that every firefighter from South Africa or anywhere else has worked on these fires will be compensated in accordance with our laws in this province,” she said.

According to a government website, a typical firefighter in the province makes around $30 an hour.

The premier has asked ministry officials to resolve the matter.

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One comment on “Notley steps into Fort Mac wage dispute
  1. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    This reminds me of a disputed contract in Brunei years ago. In the end the Brunei government took over the workforce to resolve this dispute. Could the Alberta Government do the same thing?