300 South African fire fighters made headlines recently, singing and dancing when they landed in Canada. They had been sent there to help fight a massive fire,
But the scenario turned sour when the firefighters went on strike over a pay dispute.
The team are now returning home to face a disciplinary hearing over their actions.
Working on Fire CEO Johan Heine joins Ray White on the line to spark some light on latest events.
Heine says the initial agreement with the firefighters was a daily rate of $50 a day which he says both te the team and the Canadians signed and agreed upon.
But very sadly, and we were shocked, to have them suddenly demand R3000 a day instead of R600 per day we agreed on.— Johan Heine, CEO Working on Fire
Heine says the firefighters have accepted an agreement that a senior management team from Working on Fire along with the Canadian High Commissioner fly to Canada to talk to them and resolve the issues.
The meetings are scheduled for the weekend. They will all then be returning to South Africa.
It's a huge embarrassment for Working on Fire, for our country, and for the agencies in Canada that have arranged this assistance. It's not how we usually operate. We have done a lot of international deployment and this is the first time that an incident like that has happened.— Johan Heine, CEO Working on Fire
Heine says the 300 firefighters are permanent workers with Working on Fire recruited from among the unemployed youth. They were trained and have a years experience in wild land firefighting.
Meanwhile the fires are under control, and the Canadians have begun demobilising firefighters off the fire-line already.