The 300 firefighters who arrived singing and dancing in Canada to help put out devastating wildfires have gone on strike.
Working on Fire is investigating the strike and has apologised to the Canadian government for any inconvenience this may have caused.
“We always agree on remuneration with our firefighters when going on deployments of this nature and, as in this instance, formal contracts were signed,” it said on its website.
The Canadian government has reportedly asked the firefighters to go home, but they have refused to leave until their demands are met.
A mediator from Working on Fire has now been sent to Canada by Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa to assist in resolving the pay dispute.
Working on Fire said: “We are extremely disappointed that we couldn’t resolve this internally before it escalated to become an international incident. For Working on Fire (PTY) Ltd, it has never been about making money. It has always been about assisting countries (such as Canada) who are facing massive and destructive wildfires.”
According to media reports, the 300 firefighters would face a disciplinary hearing.
The firefighters were reportedly refusing to go out to battle the wildfire in the Fort McMurray area because of the salary dispute.
Canadian media reported that the South African firefighters would earn the equivalent of $4 (R61) an hour, compared with the Canadian minimum wage of $11.20 (R168) an hour.
Accommodation and food is covered by Canadian authorities.