Justice for ALL
CONSOLIDATING WORKING CLASS POWER WITHIN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
POPCRU national march making headline news
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union [POPCRU] is a trade union organisation in South Africa operating within the South African Police Service [SAPS], the Department of Correctional Services [DCS] and the Traffic component. POPCRU represents more than hundred and fifty thousand [150 000] Police, Corrections and Traffic Officials. This gigantic movement was established on the 5th November 1989 at the height of the liberation struggle within the country. Prior to the establishment of POPCRU, institutional racism was entrenched within the Public Service and the three departments where we operate were the implementer of such atrocious practices
POPCRU turns 33
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) will be celebrating its 33rd anniversary tomorrow, the 5th of November 2022.
It was exactly 33 years ago that this union was established for the purposes of serving as a voice for security services members of colour who were for long compelled to enforce unjust laws of the then apartheid regime.
As we pay homage to all those men and women of goodwill and resilience who were there since POPCRU’s inception, we are further determined to see the union’s objectives prevail.
It was at its founding Congress that POPCRU chose as its motto the slogan “Justice for All”, a decision by the founding delegates which demonstrated from the very beginning POPCRU’s own understanding of the direct link between access to workplace rights for members and the improvement in the access to justice for all South Africans.
Most important for us is that justice is a morally fair and right state of everything, and to have justice as a person’s character trait means that they are just and treat everyone the same, or how they would like to be treated.
It was on this basis that from the beginning, the work of the union has among others emphasised on the need for transformation, the need to build improved community-policing relations, improved prisons systems and improved incarceration side by side with advocating for improved conditions of all members. All these can only be realised through our unified action moving forward.
The space and time we currently find ourselves is not merely for celebratory purposes, but a point where we need to make considerable reflections on the 33 years of journey that we have traversed. For any organisation to endure such a period and still remain as relevant today as it was at its formation is quite an accomplishment.
POPCRU has brought with it a range of benefits to the employer, members and the broader society as we have participative arrangements that if we were without, not much could be done.
These include balancing the power relations within occupational organisations and promoting collective buy-in and morale. Policing employment issues in particular may be considered in light of the broader public good, that is, outside the organisation itself.
When members within the criminal justice cluster are not happy with their employment conditions, protest action or other activities may well impact on the community’s safety and security.
Despite the evidence on the positive contribution unions can make in any given workplace, antagonisms towards unions remain strong on the part of some managers and employers, and this has explicitly expressed itself through the non-implementation of signed resolutions from within the Criminal Justice Cluster.
Conditions have since changed, with positivity and draw-backs alike, and as we celebrate our 33rd anniversary, it is deemed fit that we call upon our collective wisdom and resolve to look ahead at the mountains we still face, and must overcome.
As POPCRU, we must invoke and reassert this political commitment, so that we can establish a fundamental principle that despite the various specific challenges faced with the various departments we organise in, there is absolutely no way that this government can achieve the democratisation agenda within the criminal justice cluster without a considerable and meaningful input from the union.
To this effect, the union will be holding its Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting from the 13th to the 16th of November 2022 wherein, among others will be reflecting on our 33 years of existence, and defining our path forward in the midst of the many emanating challenges including the undermining of collective bargaining and the degradation of workers’ rights in the country.