The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) convened its Collective Bargaining and Policy Conference from the 14th to the 18th March 2018 at Kopanong Hotel and Conference centre, attended by National Negotiators, Provincial Negotiators, and Provincial Office-bearers, Gender Coordinators, local and international guests.
We gathered to conduct an analogy and plan ahead as we approach a historic thirty (30) years of existence – a three decade of militancy within the Criminal Justice Cluster and presented an ideal policing and correction system we envisage to bring about stability, peace and safer South Africa. We made comprehensive assessment of the impact of signed Collective Bargaining Council’s agreements related to conditions in the Criminal Justice Cluster since 1996 and the assessment of the transformation processes within the sectors post-1994, with specific reference to legislative frameworks enacted with the objective of transforming Public Service in particular the South African Police Service, Correctional Services and Traffic.
These, we believe, are in line with reviewing our current posture and to develop a roadmap on how best we can reposition ourselves in line with the needs and aspirations of our members in the 21st century.
We further believe that strengthening POPCRU as a labour movement for transformation and a strategic axis within the security environment is principally about shaping the organisation’s resilience, enhancing its transformative capacity and its ability to adapt to changing situations so that it can continue to serve and lead its membership. It must further expand its scope to recruit members from all departments and law enforcement agencies within the Criminal Justice Sectors
- On the PIC
The conference noted with frustration the continued, unconsented use of workers’ pension funds by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). The PIC’s investment priorities have not yielded any real benefit for workers.
With the PIC managing about R1, 9 trillion on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and other social welfare funds such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the conference expressed its unhappiness with the forms of investments that have been implemented by this corporation.
The meeting strongly expressed the urgent need to have labour representatives as part of the decision-making processes therein, in ensuring the PIC invests in developmental programs that are to improve worker conditions and create local job opportunities for our populace.
- On Corrections
It is our held view that the overly emphasised challenges within our correctional centres are not being adequately addressed by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
Correctional Services and the Department of Social Development should work hand-in-hand for better reintegration
There are currently over 12 000 foreign nationals in South African Correctional Centres for criminal activities ranging from murder, rape and other crimes against the safety of the state. This has seen the annual cost of taking care of each inmate at a figure of R133 085 per annum, meaning our centres spend R1.6 billion annually for these foreign nationals.
South Africa does not have a prisoner transfer agreements with other countries, and with 8% foreign nationals who cannot even be fitted into the parole process, we are of the view that as part of reducing the prison population figures, prisoner transfer agreements need to be effected. This should go in line with ensuring our correctional centres become self-sufficient in catering for the daily needs of inmates.
Beyond the challenges emanating from overcrowding and understaffing, the department has failed to address the OSD payments owed to its employees, including those who have terminated their services. This backlog has resulted in continuous resignations, while the management also intends to cut the number of student correctional officials who are still on contracts at correctional centres.
The duplication of roles at managerial levels has compounded the situation to an undesirable level, and the tenderisation process has also seen the much needed funds in the implementation of rehabilitation programs misdirected.
The Acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services has issued an instruction to all Regional Commissioners in relation to what it is referred to as the alignment of the post establishment to the budget for 2017/18 financial year. According to this instruction, the decision was taken at a National Management Committee meeting held in October 2017.
The implications of the decision means that a total of eight hundred and sixty six (866) posts at different salary levels and Occupational Specific grades under Administration and Incarceration programmes will be abolished. This goes further to indicate that a budget for Administration and Incarceration programmes at all Regions and head office will be reduced by 1.92% and 4.07% respectively. The department was allocated a total budget of R15.7 billion for compensation of employees for the 2017/18 financial year which translates to a total number of 39 101 posts.
This decision will have serious implications on the functioning of Correctional Services considering that it is currently under-staffed to fulfil its mandate and putting the lives of our members at risk. The matter has been put on the agenda at the PSCBC for intervention.
Discussions are currently under way, and we are adamant that the preservation of jobs should be at the top of this department’s priorities. Should the discussions in the council not yield positive outcome and because of the negative effect it will have on our members and the entire department, we will certainly call for an action.
- On Policing
We reiterate our call for the restructuring of the South African Police Service as a way of ensuring the lives of police officers are preserved and their conditions of work are improved.
This arises out of the fact that the current top-heavy structure within the SAPS has duplicated functions which had dire financial implications that continue to take money that should be utilised to improve conditions of service and provision of tools of trades. It also has a lot of red tape which has delayed immediate responses, interventions and has hampered service delivery. It must be aligned with the National, Provincial and Local constitutional requirement as contained in section 205 subsection 3 of the Constitution of the RSA.
It is our held view that the current structure has no clear delegation of authority, roles and functions and it interferes with the management of stations. We view it as an unnecessary bureaucratic level which has only achieved to derail service delivery.
Stations are currently led by junior members who are not decision makers. The smallest stations are sometimes led by the Sergeants who cannot make decisions as non-commissioned officers. This eventuality compromises service delivery whereby there is no decision making on the utilization of man power and resources.
Not only does the SAPS need to strengthen police stations that lack resources, but they should further ensure they are led by competitive managers. This will enhance effective policing in line with the prescribed ratios.
We need to have stations that are capacitated to render effective service delivery, ensure more manpower in terms of visible policing, delegate high ranking officers at the lowest possible levels to make executive decisions and minimise the allocation of case dockets to detectives for efficient investigation.
As things stand, 25% of the SAPS budget is spent on senior management at national and provincial levels, while our many police officials have not been getting promoted. Out of the 66 000 qualifying for salary progression, only 5 000 are considered. This means that those in upper structures get what they are worth, while police officers on the ground continue to suffer.
The growth and needs of the population are not considered by the police management when deploying both human and other resources, and this sad state of affairs contradicts the ratio of 1 policeman serving 10 000 citizens. This ratio has grown to a single police official having to serve 30 000 or more citizens when considering our official population of 56 million and illegal immigrants.
We call for the police to be under one department and one commissioner, including a well strengthened secretariat for effective monitoring. This Police Secretariat must be strengthened and must report directly to the Minister.
We will be lobbying for Community Policing Forums (CPFs) to play a bigger role of educating and empowering communities to participate in fighting crime, thereby ensuring improved safety for citizens. For this to be effective, we must ensure that there is proper and consistence screening of CPFs and that their roles are clearly defined.
As a major stakeholder, we must enforce proper consultation during processes of appointing candidates in strategic positions at the levels of National and Provincial Commissioners. For this, we will be working harder in ensuring proper monitoring tools are developed in ensuring compliance with legislation and policies.
We will work to ensure that our proposed policy positions find space within SAPS for consideration and implementation on curbing crime, improving levels of safety and security, visible policing and proper resourcing of satellite and police stations.
As an addition, we must have Reservists being integrated within the SAPS and subjected to a proper training and development on policing and crime fighting.
In pursuing Single Police Service the municipal, metro and traffic police, must be placed under the command and control of the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, as a force multiplier.
Nationalisation of traffic is but one step close to the realisation of this resolution. It is indeed critical that government pays more attention to the issue of nationalising Traffic where there will be one chain of command and control. This would further assist in ensuring that Provincial Traffic is designated as the essential service with its conditions similar to those of their counterparts.
Synchronization of Traffic Departments through a nationalised Department will go a long way in harmonizing sound quality public service, with uniform standard applied to all employees.
We must ensure that our policy position on nationalisation of Traffic is fully implemented.
In addressing most of the above matters within the sector, POPCRU is of a strong view that we must develop a policy position for the establishment of an enforcement agency within the Collective Bargaining Councils to enforce implementation of signed agreements.