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Molewa sends a mediator to Canada over striking firefighters

High Commissioner to Canada Membathisi Mdladlana will meet with the firefighters to address their concerns.

file: A group of 300 South African firefighters work to uproot a tree as they mop-up hot spots in an area close to Anzac, outside of Fort McMurray, Alberta on June 2, 2016. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has dispatched a mediator from Working on Fire to Canada to assist in resolving a salary dispute.

Trevor Abrahams accompanied the South African High Commissioner to Canada, Membathisi Mdladlana, to meet with firefighters and address their concerns.

This is in line with President Jacob Zuma's request for Molewa's intervention in resolving the standoff.

Last week, 300 South African firefighters dispatched to fight a wildfire in Fort McMurray refused to report to duty after raising concerns about their pay.

Firefighters are unhappy with the daily rate they are being paid, which is reportedly below the minimum rate acceptable in Canada.

Environmental affairs spokesperson Albi Modise says the minister believes the matter can be resolved amicably.

"The minister is confident that the matter can be resolved in a mutually satisfactory manner, allowing the firefighters and management and ground to return back to South Africa safely. It is the minister's view that the firefighter's working conditions need to at all time be equitable."

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