POPCRU Media Briefing : 05 October 2015
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is a public sector union organising over 160 000 workers in the South African Police Service, Correctional Services and Traffic components. As a proud affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), we have collectively with other affiliates taken keen interest in the unity and growth of this federation into the giant movement it is today. As a majority union in the sectors under which we organise, our growth can only be attributed to the confidence our members and those who join us daily have in our capacity and ability to protect and defend their needs and ensure better working conditions for all.
Over the past month of September, we held our 8th POPCRU Provincial Congresses across the 9 provinces, and can confirm that our structures have hit the ground running in implementing our 8th National Congress resolutions by practically working on the best means in implementing these in accordance to the differing material conditions they find themselves. We are particularly proud due to the high levels of debate seen at these Congresses, and are confident that such dedication will lead to the growth and unity of the union in all regards.
- Draft Public Service Regulation
In light of the draft Public Service regulation, we are predominantly disillusioned by Chapter 8 as contained therein. Our forthright assessment is that it seeks to promote and formalise the regulation of casualization within the public service.
Casualization has in the past been and continues to be detrimental to the many job securities lost by workers not only in our country, but the world over. It has beyond reasonable doubt proven itself to be a futile model that has seen the exploitation and degradation of workers. The African National Congress’ concept of decent work at the backdrop of this casualization process leaves little to be desired, and as the ruling party, we urged them to take a clear stance against any form of casualization. It serves as an attack to both meaningful consultation on matters of mutual gains and seeks to erode the gains made on actuarial interest rates in the Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF). We fervently reject Chapter 8 of the draft Public Service regulation and demand for its urgent revision to exclude any form of casualization in the public service.
We would like to congratulate the newly appointed Minister of Public Service and Administration, and further call on him to come on board in ensuring there is meaningful consultation on any changes on the rights and benefits of public servants. We equally call on him to finalise the payments of housing allowances as agreed to in Council.
- Border Management Agency
The establishment of the Border Management Agency, which is in its initial stages, will be deleteriously affecting over 10 000 public servants in terms of service conditions. The model of this agency is such that it will have its own uniform, culture, command and control separate from that of the police and the army. This equates to outsourcing and agentisation of our national security. It is current reality that the Private Security firms in the country exceeds three-fold the size of the police and army combined, and therefore creating an agency outside government to manage our borders clearly takes away the responsibility of the state in monitoring our safety. This is a high level security risk and we vehemently reject such a move. We cannot allow for our national security to be sold to the highest bidder. To this extent, we have signed PSCBC resolution 1 of 2015 wherein the government as an employer agreed to review the impact of agentisation and outsourcing and further agreed to conduct an independent study on the principles of decent work, dispute resolution and implementation of agreement. The initiation of Border management Control is in direct conflict with this collective agreement.
- Crime Statistics
There is no guaranteed formula for combating crime as it is intrinsically linked, directly or indirectly, with the material conditions of any society at any given time; however, in confronting the material conditions for the upliftment of any society, we then have to deal with the remnants that feed into the current social ills we find. This is the point missed by the many analysts who have in the recent spate of police killings made submissions which are short-term in nature while commonly seeking to undermine the role police play. In particular, Mr Cronje of the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) seeks to isolate the role stakeholders like communities should play in jointly providing solutions to the challenges around crime, and wants to act as a deterrent to the fact that policing in South Africa is relatively new and its approach cannot be ignorant to the current South African realities, as has been the case in the apartheid days when it was a FORCE, not a SERVICE.
At any given point, statistical analysis gives us a sense of the past conditions, whether positive or negative, under the period with which they cover. Criminal statistics cannot lead to mathematical conclusions as many would like to have us believe for the sole reason that criminal activity committed cannot be disassociated to human behaviour under different material and/or mental conditions, and therefore reaching universal conclusions would be difficult under the circumstances.
Therefore, our view is that we acknowledge the statistical rise in certain areas, and declining trends in other areas. For us to all fully grasp the interpretation thereof, we need to interrogate as to why there were such increases by relating them to the practical factors that contributed to such a state of affairs. Only after that can we look into areas to put more focus on, while maintaining the effort to reduce some of the challenges in the declined areas.
The notion that seeks to discredit individuals solely on the basis of statistical outcomes while remaining ignorant of material conclusions is typical of many liberal analysts whom on a continuous mislead our people by their veiled attacks at those they self-imposingly choose to discredit, and this phenomena also has its foot deeply rooted within the manner in which those who have for years fought against any transformation within the judiciary have thrived; this by being economical about facts, presenting them is a skewed manner that protects their interests without fail.
Organisations such as Freedom Under Law (FUL) and the retired Judge Kriegler have on numerous occasions been found to dismally fail in acting impartially when it relates to their application of what they term ‘law’. Kriegler has on numerous occasions stated that a lawyer who lies to the court is unfit to be a lawyer, while they have demonstrated to be selective in their shoddy outcries.
One such example was when they were given complaints of a finding by the Pretoria Magistrate against Gerrie Nel for lying under oath, a similar point they are currently raising against Nomcobo Jiba, yet they never acted at all when it came to Nel. The same Gerrie Nel was earlier this year implicated in having authorised the spying on of NPA offices. None of these NGOs deemed it fit that the nation should be worried. Kriegler’s lieutenant, Paul Hoffman on the other hand has made it his preoccupation to fight against the appointment of certain judges, displayed his fictitious foul-cry at the Seriti commission while remaining silent on allegations against Gerrie Nel and probably the loudest voice on similar allegations against Richard Mdluli, Jiba and Mrwebi.
We need to ask ourselves as to whose interests FUL and Corruption Watch are serving? Thus far all we have seen is a typical scenario of speaking progress by acting out regressively.
- Grade Progression of Constables to Sergeants…
We welcome the announcement by the National Commissioner on the agreement on the Special Dispensation on Grade Progression of constables to sergeants and sergeants to warrant officers. This historic move comes a long way, after many had been in one grade for even over 10 years, an era which had demoralised many, while discouraging many to join the police service as the growth aspects had been suffocated.
The National Commissioner of the SAPS, Ms Riah Phiyega has consistently been committed in improving labour relations and conditions of employment for our members, examples of which include but are not limited to the following:
- SSSBC Agreements 1 – 3 of 2011
- SSSBC Agreement 1 of 2012
- SSSBC Agreements 1 – 3 of 2014, and;
- SSSBC Agreements 1 – 3 of 2015
The effects of these agreements have yielded in a policy to be followed by shop stewards and the presiding officers as to how to deal with the issues of sexual harassment in the workplace, a new rank structure, promotion policy, the amendment of discipline regulations which repealed the suspension without pay, levy increase, empowered to execute its mandate and provide excellent services to its members, a staggering alignment of Capped Overtime in the SAPS and an increase in the Payment of overtime for special events in the SAPS amongst others.
We are, however, perturbed by the refusal of the South African Policing Union (SAPU) to sign the agreement when they had not objected to anything during negotiations. They have self-willingly chosen to refuse giving members an opportunity to be upgraded. It is indeed a sad state of affairs that 21 years into our democratic breakthrough, there can imaginably be a so-called union which firmly stands opposed to the improvement of working conditions of its own members and the working class in general.
Typical of this self-styled pseudo-union, they have exposed themselves as agents of everything that is backwards and anti-workers. There can’t be any deserving structure calling itself a union of workers whilst openly conniving against workers. It is an open secret that this so-called Union’s priorities have never been about securing and defending the interests of constables, sergeants and warrant officers, but rather on rubbing shoulders with organisations that promote racist practices within SAPS like we witnessed during the so-called Barnard case which ended in the Constitutional Court. They are permanently and conveniently remaining forgetful of the fact that the basic unit of any organ lies with its membership.
- Private Security Industry
Over the past months this year, our country has been marred by senseless acts of police killings which up to so far have left just over 60 families losing loved ones at the hands of criminals. At face value, these acts reflect the state of the multiple challenges our democratic breakthrough inherited from the apartheid regime, mainly focused on the socio-economic challenges and its remnants borne out of the social ills emanating from these conditions a majority of South Africans face, and at another level, most recently, reflects a concerted effort by detractors to paint a negative image that seeks to portray the police service as being incapable of maintaining law and order in the country, but more so, raising sinister, emergent views that seek to promote the utilisation of unregulated Private Security Firms as an alternative, an idea being constantly sold to the middle class in the country, backed by opposition parties and several NGOs in their quest to diminish the public’s trust in our democratic institutions.These firms are marred by illegal employment practices with unregistered employees. This continues to constitute a threat to our country’s security and its sovereignty.
Because majority of their employees are contract workers, much like a temporary employment agency, they are driven by a supply and demand concept where the client dictates the need, the schedule, and the duties of the contracted labour, the contract terms and even the price that they’re willing to pay for the services provided.
This supply and demand concept, often led by financial and time constraints continues to be the culprit in the demise of professionally screened, trained, well equipped and suitable candidates for the tasks at hand. Instead, what has been happening is that most of the firearms and employees have regularly disappeared, and these lost guns are sold back to criminal elements within communities, who in turn perpetrate criminal activities. Some of these private security firms are owned by people outside the country, and the manner in which they are hostile to regulation suggests that they have become a law unto themselves. We call for the urgent enactment of the current bill on Private Security Industry and the review of gun laws in general. We are of the view that we can no longer have individuals owning and stockpiling more than one gun as this has led to their theft, which feeds into further criminal acts being committed within our communities.
As part of the mid-term goals in combating crime, we believe in solidifying relations with society for better cooperation, and as such, we have been at the forefront in mending relations between police and communities. This has been an on-going trend which we believe needs all stakeholders to work as a collective. Our goal is to enhance the dignity in policing, a police that is not feared but respected within the community, and one that plays a greater role in uniting solidarity among community members in commonly fighting against the scourge of alcohol and drug abuse amongst our youth mostly in impoverished areas. We believe putting more emphasis on youth and getting them into different social programs through sports, recreational facilities and keeping them in schools is a way of keeping them out of the social ills engulfing our societies, and for that to be effective, cooperation is vital.
Our structures are currently busy doing what we call a door-to-door campaign in different localities, aimed at consulting communities about the challenges faced, and in that strengthening cooperation.
- Correctional Services
We would want to see a clear rehabilitation strategy which shall ensure that inmates do not remain idle in Correctional Services, literally turning these facilities into self-proclaimed hotels where they are catered for everything at the expense of taxpayers’ monies without any input, therefore rendering these facilities into institutions that perpetuate criminal activities. There must be collaboration between the Departments of Rural Development and Correctional Services with the view of utilising prisoners’ labour for infrastructural development. This will not only assist government in attaining its goals on infrastructure development, but also ensure inmates earn a living. Many inmates who were breadwinners at home have effectively imprisoned their families into abject poverty. We are of the view that this move would make inroads in rehabilitating the inmates and move them away from the lives of gangsterism.
To realise these, there must be clear shift patterns (working hours). All outstanding matters serving on the agenda of the Ministerial Task Team should be finalised, in particular, the second phase of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) GPSSBC agreement 2 of 2009, the shift patterns, the 2nd group of 2008 and promotion policy.
We acknowledge progress made on the nationalisation of Traffic and call upon the Minister of the Department of Transport to fast-track the process, in that, ensuring that by the 1st April 2016, conditions for traffic and law enforcement officers are harmonised and standardised as anticipated.
- COSATU National Protected Strike Action
We fully support the COSATU National Protected Strike action taking place on the 7th October 2015 (Wednesday) for the protest against E-tolls, against job losses, the electricity crisis, the public health sector, the national minimum wage. These, we believe upon being addressed, will practically improve conditions of the many workers and the working class in general. Our members will be going out in their numbers countrywide to support this clarion call by our federation.
Issued by POPCRU