POPCRU Post-Special NEC Statement

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) convened a Special National Executive Committee (SNEC) meeting yesterday to discuss, among others, the restructuring of the South African Police Service (SAPS), developments on the salary disputes, the ever-changing regulations at the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and the impact of Covid-19 within sectors.

The SNEC observed a moment of silence in honour of the late POPCRU Western Cape Provincial Secretary, Comrade Mncedisi David Mbolekwa, who passed away on the 15th of July 2020, and was laid to rest in his home of Ngolo Location, Umtata in the Eastern Cape Province on the 24th of July 2020.

Comrade Mbolekwa was a dedicated, principled unionist who remained loyal to our cause and struggles for workers’ rights. We salute him for the role he played, and his selfless contributions towards promoting and attaining justice for all. His lively character will remain engrained in our hearts.

The SNEC also paid tribute to apartheid activist, the last remaining Rivonia trialist and Isitwalandwe award recipient, Andrew Mokete Mlangeni who died at the age of 95, on Tuesday 21 July 2020, and is being buried today.

The SNEC applauded him for his contribution in bringing about a democratic breakthrough in our country, and acknowledged the sacrifices he made in his life towards the realisation of an equal society.

He has never been one to mince his words, and was always one you could rely on to call a spade a spade, and not a gardening implement.

As a staunch critic of corruption, his life and service to the people should serve as a challenge to all leaders in taking forth the spirit of sacrifice and service to the people.

·         Transformation of the SAPS

The SNEC noted with concern the restructuring process that is currently being undertaken within the SAPS, outside of consultative platforms.

Beyond expressing concerns about the delays on consultations regarding the recent restructuring, POPCRU has been complaining about the top-heavy structure of the SAPS as it has always dismally failed to address service delivery needs.

Back in 2018, the SAPS presented a fragmentary structure in the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC) as part of the SSSBC Agreement 2 of 2009, which detailed the kind of process that must be followed in terms of consultations. It was therefore precluded and was supposed to be replaced with a complete approach to restructuring.

It came as an astonishment when the SAPS internally approved a working document which hadn’t been concluded at the SSSBC for consultation, and subsequent to this, the SAPS further introduced a new model called the “District Model” to do away with clusters, piloting it in Gauteng to test its viability.

POPCRU has since taken it upon itself to engage the SAPS on bilateral to ascertain progress in the pilot project before consultations for its full implementation.

With the last interaction having taken place on the 29th of June 2020, the SAPS committed that they would table a position paper at the SSSBC in affording us an opportunity for inputs before consideration.

The SNEC expressed its apprehension over the observation that there are elements of implementation of this non-consulted restructuring process in different provinces, despite having reached an understanding in the bilateral that there would be no implementation until after consultations are finalised at the SSSBC level.

This vile tendency is seemingly becoming rife in the SAPS, when they are dealing with personalities as opposed to principles. Despite violating bilateral agreements reached, this process is being utilised as a tool to target certain individuals, while seemingly promoting those within inner-circles of the top management.

The SNEC therefore calls for the immediate, unconditional suspension of any restructuring processes that have been taking place in the SAPS at national, provincial and station levels until consultations are concluded at the level of the SSSBC, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has subsided.

The SNEC calls on the National Police Commissioner to invest his energies on the current Covid-19 activities, including the protection of employees within stations through ensuring all stations commanders strictly abide by the set National Steering Committee directives, and fully grasping the meaning of the value of life among our declining staff complement.

Our call for the suspension of these unilateral restructuring process encompass the following considerations;

-We need a proper skills audit,

-Compliance with the DPSA senior manager guidelines must be followed to the latter,

-Placement guidelines must be developed and agreed upon,

-Civilian positions should be occupied by qualified candidates, 

-Proper placement committees at all levels be agreed upon at the SSSBC, and

-All posts must be vacant.

·         Developments on salary disputes

The SNEC discussed at length the developments pertaining to the outcomes of the conciliation that took place at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) on the full implementation of the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018, clause 3.3.

This agreement was entered into for the period of 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2021 relating to salary adjustments and improvements of conditions of service for employees in the public service between the state as the employer and employees under the employ of the state who fall within the registered scope of the PSCBC.

In line with this agreement, the employer ought to have paid an across the board  adjustment to the cost of living by CPI plus 1% for salary level 1 – 7, CPI plus 0.5% for salary level 8 – 10 and CPI equivalent for salary level 11 -12.

After the employer reneged on implementing the last leg of the binding agreement signed in 2018, we declared a dispute on the 1st of April 2020, and the matter was set for conciliation which was convened from the 28th of April 2020 to the 6th of May 2020, wherein government continued its proposals of having workers fund the last leg of the increment through money allocated for pay progression due to public servants and their capped leaves.

This would essentially mean there would be no pay progression for the financial year 2020/21 for public service workers, and represents a wage freeze. This is against the spirit of the agreement.

The SNEC holds that these delaying tactics by government have already had a straining effect on workers within the public service, and any further delays will further place them under severe economic conditions.

Government has demonstrated not to have intentions of honouring this agreement through the delivered 2019/20 budget speech by the Treasury, where Finance Minister Tito Mboweni unilaterally asserted that he was going to reverse the 2018 agreement in relation to its last leg of 2020/21.

The SNEC expressed that this schema was clearly set out long before our economy went into a technical recession, and way before the Covid-19 outbreak. It has further shown scepticism around government’s pleas about poverty as being among the reasons for their failure to fully implement the agreement.

This arrogance displayed by the ruling party’s deployees in government should be condemned in its strongest terms, and we are of the view that their lack of accountability towards the many impoverished workers who daily battle to make ends meet should be taken to cognisance. 

With the recent IMF-approved R70 billion rands loan, the SNEC urges government to source the rest of the funds for the salary increases as majority of frontline workers are inevitably critical in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.

These delays have degraded workers’ morale and work ethic, while subjecting themselves to danger and their families to impoverished lives in the midst of rising costs of living.

The SNEC resolved that we will not bow down to any pressures to and attacks on bargaining processes, and will therefore be engaging other COSATU affiliates to consider possibly embarking on action; this while legal processes are continuing.

·         Ever-changing regulations at the DCS

The SNEC deliberated on the ever-changing regulations witnessed within the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), which had led to a lot of confusion within and among members.

During the beginning of the lockdown, the DCS issued without consultation Directive 1 of 2020, which led to engagement with labour, resulting in the inclusion of our inputs and making amends to some of the Directive 1 provisions. This process led to Directive 2 of 2020, which included the payment of allowances NCB and PSA appointees who are deployed in correctional centres.

Through engagements in the Steering Committee, there was a further establishment of Directives 3 and 4 of 2020.

The problem has been with challenges around how regions have been implementing these directives. There seem to be a confusion within the DCS on how people on quarantine should be treated, and how people on isolation should be treated.

As POPCRU, we want to see the full implementation of Section 65 and 66 of COIDA. On the 20th of May 2020, the Director of Compensation Commissioner declared Covid-19 as an occupational disease. We want to ensure that our members’ contracting of this pandemic at work results in them being fully treated in terms of the Compensation of Occupational and Diseases Act (COIDA) , and must have G111 forms issued to them and the department being liable for the expenditure.

In terms of the regulations, there should be 50% occupancy at the workplace, and what the SNEC would like to see happening, in order to suppress the pandemic therein, is to ensure that during this pandemic, there should be a shift change where workers will rotate on a weekly basis, especially those that are within correctional centres.

We demand the urgent fast tracking of engagements on shift patterns. This matter has been unnecessarily dragging since the signing of the GPSSBC Resolution 2 of 2009.

·         Impact of Covid-19 within sectors

The SNEC noted with concern the dreadful increase in the number of infections within our sector.

Key among these concerns has been flouting of Steering Committee directives, and the lack of consequence thereof.

Due to the increased levels of infections, our members are beginning to be the spreaders of this pandemic due to the kind of work they conduct in working closely with inmates and having to apprehend suspected criminals.

It also demanded strict compliance to the directives on leave, quarantine protocols, isolation and all other measures that have to do with Covid-19 related issues within the CJC, and welcomed the decision to close down alcohol outlets, as its effects have been dire on the control and management of the work police have been conducting.

The DCS should take heed from the Western Cape, wherein there are four management areas which have established clinics for members.

This should be considered in all management areas to cater for the health needs of members as part of health and wellness.

·         On the closure of schools

The SNEC welcomed the decision to close schools during this peak time of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a considered view that this break will ensure a safer working environment that can best cater for the educational needs of our children.

It is common-cause that effective teaching and learning has not been taking place in most areas since the lockdown. We believe this phase will provide opportunity to both the health and educational sectors to acquire the necessary resilience in dealing with the pandemic by limiting community movement, as advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

·         On the IMF loan

The SNEC has noted the IMF-approved request funding of just over R70 billion based on South Africa’s request for emergency financial support under the Covid-19 related 

It is further understood that those commitments revolve around stabilising the public debt and implementing growth-boosting economic reforms.

The SNEC warns against the suffocating grip accompanying conditions on the country as this amount is said to be paid back in the next five years.

This happens at a time when billions of Covid19 funds are reported to have been looted.

This loan will further hinder on our national sovereignty, which will result in the imposition of structural adjustment programs being implemented.

The IMF has got a disastrous track record over the past four decades when it comes to financing developing countries. Every single emerging market crisis from 1982 has been because of the IMF structural adjustment programs. It is likely to disappear as been the case with the recent funds aimed at saving lives.

Any form of corruption that seeks to deny members of the public from getting the best medical care in this time when the pandemic is ravaging our country should be harshly punishable, regardless of the role or position one occupies.

Part of the funds allocated for the fight against the pandemic are also serving within our sector, and its utilisation must be closely monitored in avoiding any corrupt activities.

The SNEC therefore calls for accountability, transparency and a clear audit on how these finds have been utilised.

Issued by POPCRU on 29/07/2020