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Nxesi releases National Labour Migration Policy for public comment

Minister Thulas Nxesi said the proposed policy aimed to address South Africans’ expectations regarding access to work opportunities given rising unemployment and a perception that foreign nationals are distorting labour market access

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on Monday released the National Labour Migration Policy for public comment.

He said for the first time, government had formulated a comprehensive policy.

It covers labour migration governance and management to and from South Africa.

Nxesi said the proposed policy aimed to address South Africans’ expectations regarding access to work opportunities given rising unemployment and a perception that foreign nationals are distorting labour market access.

He adds the policy together with proposed legislation, will introduce quotas on the total number of documented foreign nationals with work visas that can be employed in major economic sectors such as Agriculture, Hospitality and Tourism as well as Construction.

“This policy will also be implemented by small business intervention and enforcement of a list of sectors where foreign nationals cannot be allocated business visas, and amendment to the Small Businesses Act to limit foreign nationals from establishing SMMEs.”

Nxesi said his department and authorities were stepping up inspections to enforce existing labour and immigration legislation.

The minister adds that the policy goes hand in hand with a proposed Employment Services Amendment Bill, providing a policy framework and the legal basis to regulate the extent to which employers can employ foreign nationals in their establishments while protecting the rights of migrants.

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POPCRU calls for skills audit in SAPS management following Sitole’s axing

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has called for a skills audit following General Khehla Sitole’s axing as National Commissioner.

The union said it is concerned that the trend relating to South Africa’s post-democratic National Police Commissioners has not yielded any tangible successes. 

POPCRU said it has noted the report into the July Unrest and is of the view that the removal of individual personalities is on its own not a sufficient enough remedy in adequately addressing the deep-rooted challenges faced by policing in South Africa.

“Since the year 2000, there have been 8 National Police Commissioners, and with 7 of them serving since 2009. Among the 8, 4 held this position on an acting basis. This has had far-reaching consequences for the SAPS in its entirety and has demonstrated the instability of an organisation that is to this day in the midst of a wider crisis. 

“There is a dire need for a skills audit within the SAPS managerial positions, which will ensure the identification of the gaps in required competencies and assist with getting the relevant interventions to take the work of the organisation to greater 

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Govt workers lose Constitutional Court bid to enforce wage agreement

The Constitutional Court has ruled against public sector trade unions in their bid to force government to honour a wage agreement for 2020, siding with the Labour Appeal Court, which found that the agreement was unlawful. 

At stake was R75.6 billion in backpay, which unions had hoped the court would order must be paid as well as a higher salary baseline going forward.

For Treasury and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, the ruling will come as a relief. Had the court ruled against government, the budget framework – tabled only last week – would have been thrown into disarray with an obligation on government to both pay backpay for two years and raise the wage bill for the next three years by a baseline of R37.8 billion.

The Constitutional Court found that as the wage increase had not been budgeted for and Treasury had indicated this to the state’s representatives during the bargaining process, the agreement was unlawful. 

The outcome means that public servants’ wages have been frozen for two years. In 2021, they received a R1 000-a-month cash gratuity as a sweetener. But this amount has not been included in pensionable salaries.

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POPCRU statement on the 2022 budget speech

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted the 2022 Budget speech as tabled by the Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana yesterday. 

As a union organising within the criminal justice cluster, we view his budget as nothing but a continued trend in the strict economic policy measures which have been implemented by his predecessor, with the aim of primarily reducing government spending in the public service by adhering to structural adjustment policies in the form of reforms as dictated to by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

It is common cause that the provision of loans always go with conditionalities, consequently with governments asking for loans typically agreeing to comprehensive structural adjustment measures which, by far have demonstrated to have failed the world over. Under the circumstances, this has and will continue to lead to excessive indebtedness, with a further need to attempt to restore our country’s fiscal capacity through new loans and further adjustment measures, further entrapping us in debt.

These have been demonstrated by the preconditioned structural adjustments for debt relief.  

After having unanimously decided to cut the SAPS budget by R26 billion over a three-year period and only adding R8,7 billion, reflecting an initial shortfall of R17,3 billion thus far, this while having committed to halving violent crimes within a decade, we are convinced that the government is intentionally weakening the criminal justice cluster. This latest stance sadly spells doom for the many public service employees in the criminal justice cluster and beyond, who continue to dedicate their services to the South African population while not having received salary increments for the past two years, continue working while understaffed, are killed daily without government interventions and are continuously demoralised over their deteriorating working conditions. 

While awaiting a Constitutional Court judgement on the outstanding PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018, with specific reference to clause 3.3 which was the last leg of this resolution, which was presented at the Constitutional Court on the 20th of August 2021, a period spanning five months now, we had expected that the Minister’s budget would indicate on intention to resolve this long-standing debacle. Instead, he opted to refer to negotiations as opposed to figures without any indication of finances set aside for this purpose, and therefore clearly undermining any future negotiation prospects as it relates to salary increments. 

Further, an announcement has recently been made that managers within the public service will be getting salary increases and cash incentives, all while workers remain in the dark about their deserved increases.

POPCRU is of the view that the unfolding processes have been fruitless, while openly demonstrating the government’s overlooking of constitutionally recognised processes.

This is a clear indication yet that workers are on their own. It is for this reason that other forms of action need to be considered in taking workers’ interests forward. 

Issued by POPCRU on 24/02/2022

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349

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POPCRU condemns the shooting at Tembisa Hospital

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted with distress the unfortunate loss of life which was reportedly ended inside the premises of the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital yesterday morning.

It is understood that the perpetrator is a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS), whom at the time of this occurrence was in possession of a marked state vehicle, and in full uniform.

Such regrettable acts dent the image of the SAPS as an organisation, and while we abhor and sturdily discourage such acts, their frequency among members, we believe, are partly as a result of the deep-rooted underlying challenges faced by many among the SAPS ranks.

The acts of suicide within and among members of the SAPS are at an alarming level, with an average of at least 20 reported cases over each of the past 2 years, calling for urgent measures by all stakeholders to enhance their roles in curbing this trend as policing is becoming more stressful when compared to other careers or professions.

It is more challenging because most officers are always exposed to incidents that place their lives in danger, and the nature of their work is such that the gruesome scenes they witness bear conditions of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock which usually involves the disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recalls of the experience encountered, and therefore resulting in dulled responses to others and the outside world. 

These stress levels affect individuals, their families, the SAPS as an organisation and the community at large, all while a study on South African suicide rates reveals that officers of the SAPS are eleven times more likely to commit suicide than the average South African citizen, and are five times more likely to commit suicide in comparison to police suicide rates internationally. 

Our country consistently struggles with some of the highest rates of violent crime in the world, and pressing human tragedies compete for police attention. This scale and scope of crime and restiveness is enough to put immense pressure on our 177 794 staff capacity that is expected to service an over 60 million population, all of which is complicated by the underlying causes of crime in South Africa, which are embedded in a complex mix of inequality, disenfranchisement and the legacy of apartheid.

This state of affairs is further compounded by the limited chances of promotions, the shortages of resources and unfair practices in relation to compensation, coupled with the reality that there are inconsistencies in leadership, which continues to cause divisions in the law enforcement environment.

All these challenges are faced at a time when the service is constrained by budgetary cuts, which pose serious risks to the wellbeing of police officers, and has demonstrated the correlation between the lack of resources and the demands of the service. 

Their wellbeing cannot be disconnected from the broader environment in which they operate.

Even though the SAPS has for this purpose introduced Employee Health and Wellness (EHW) programs aimed at improving the mental well-being of members by providing psychological, emotional, and personal and work- interventions, much evidence has demonstrated that the programs have dismally failed to achieve their objectives. 

This is allegedly due to reasons that these EHW representatives, usually psychologists and priests, are not doing what is required of them or they do not understand their roles.

Further, there are claims of lack of confidentiality, and that there are no regular visits to victims, and that the services are stigmatised, limiting individuals’ upward mobility within the ranks.

They are reactive in discharging their duties in such a way that they are only seen at the station when there is a problem. They never seem to conduct proactive visits to ensure that the members are coping with their work or personal lives. 

Further, most of the members are not familiar with the EHW services within SAPS.  In this regard, it should be our collective responsibility to ensure we promote these services so members understand their impact in their personal lives and at their workplaces.

As stakeholders, we need to work together in ensuring these services are revived and effective cause if not attended to urgently, they will lead to continuous trauma and stress to employees. 

We need to work to ensure that EHW representatives are not reactive in approach, and they should do more visits to police stations as opposed to inconsistent visits that are only conducted when there are challenges. 

Confidentiality should be strengthened as most police officers feel their information might be compromised

All role players should do more in informing police officers about what the EHWs are aimed at, as it is currently the case that most officers do not fully understand what these programs are aimed at, and for this reason, there is a stigma created around the issue.

There is also a pressing need to deal away with the blurring of responsibilities between the two responsibilities at the top level of the SAPS to avoid the further weakening both the management role of the commissioner and the oversight role of the Minister.

The wellbeing of police officers must be of central importance to any functional police service, both for the simple reason of providing adequate protections to officers, but also because a police service works best when its primary agents feel safe enough to do their job. A police service that feels under threat can find its officers less willing to take on difficult, risky situations, and can also breed mistrust that breaks down essential community relations.

We lastly urge the police management to play their role in attending to stress caused by the lack of resources, staff shortages, unfair disciplinary issues and over-indebtedness among others.

In his state of the nation address back in 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa assured the nation that government will be pulling all stops to ensure we halve violent crimes within the next decade. This commitment, however, has been immediately undermined by the planned budget cuts.

For any realisation of investments that government is attempting to secure, the preconditions have a lot to do with the security situation of our country, and if not urgently addressed, such objectives are unlikely to be attained. 

Issued by POPCRU on 10/02/2022