The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) take this opportunity to wish all South Africans a happy festive season and a productive new year ahead. 

As the year 2021 draws to an end, we primarily wish the many workers of our country a peaceful and well deserved rest, for without their immense and tireless efforts; our country would have been in a far worse state than it is.

It has been through these diligent efforts undertaken by our members within the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) and Traffic, whom have not only been in the frontline in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, but continue to ensure the safety and security of our populace during and beyond the festive season. These are men and women who have put their lives on the line to save others. 

The past two years had been filled with unanticipated challenges that have had an adverse impact on the workplace and on lives in general, and these have had a significant imprint on out outlook in our commitments towards redefining the criminal justice cluster while defending our hard-won gains. It was for these and other reasons that our Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting had to among others, review our programs in line with these new realities.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had left over 50 000 of members within our sectors infected, while 876 fatalities have been reported. This had caused delays in the much needed services provided, as many had to be put off sick from time to time. 

As a union, we have taken a stance to encourage our members to get vaccinated, and this has been the case because of their work in the frontline. Though we have initially had challenges around the large amount of our members being infected, especially in 2020, recent reports have demonstrated that the infection and death rates have not been on an increase.

This can be attributable to the vaccination intervention that was conducted within the sectors, which has demonstrated to spare lives. Under the circumstances, we further call on those who have not yet vaccinated to reconsider, while similarly respecting individual rights on the matter. 

We wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those law enforcement officers who met their untimely deaths due to altercations within our correctional centres and the continued police killings. We further wish to extend our condolences to the many victims of the senseless acts of Gender-Based Violence throughout our country throughout this passing year. 

Despite these faced challenges, we have fought for the absorption of over 2000 DCS learners who had been left roaming idle and isolated after having competently concluded their learnership training programs since the year 2020.

We have concluded the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) salary adjustment agreement, wherein those within the salary bracket of R500 000 will get a 5, 5% increase, those between R500 000, 01 and R600 000 will get a 5% increase, and those over R600 000 will be getting 4%.

In the South African Police Service (SAPS), we have translated security and Public Service Act personnel, and thus far, two groups are currently at training colleges, while the third will be starting their training in January 2022.

We have also established consultative forums in all provinces, which have culminated into the national consultative forum.

This forum is tasked with the responsibility to come up with a draft employment equity plan for the SAPS.

Be that as it may, we also acknowledge that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in ensuring the best possible services to our membership and the country, and it is for this reason that we have recommitted ourselves to further intensely fostering ahead with our members’ needs in the coming year and beyond.

We applaud the good work demonstrated by our members on the ground during the July protests that engulfed some of the areas of our country. Despite the known challenges of understaffing and the shortage of resources, our members could not be everywhere at the same time to prevent all the looting. With the limited capacity, national key points such as harbours, airports, water plants, transmission stations and others were safely secured against this onslaught. It is thanks to the efforts of our strained men and women in blue that the protection of sites of national strategic importance was defended against sabotage.

The austerity-type cuts to police budgets contributed to the slow response by authorities, and many had warned that the deep cuts to social services – especially welfare grants and police and education budgets – risked stoking social unrest as unemployment, inequality and poverty worsened.

In the 2021 Budget in February, National Treasury slashed the baseline allocation to the police services by close to R12-billion

Over the next three years, according to the SA Police Service’s annual report, allocations will be reduced by R15.8-billion next year and by R11.5-billion in 2023, as part of government’s cost-cutting plan after the pandemic blew a hole in revenues and economic growth. 

As deliberations are ensuing in the South African Human Rights Commission, it is important to note that these imposed budget cuts have deeply affected our ability to respond to the violent protests witnessed, as we have also seen an overlapping humanitarian and economic crisis that impacted on the security crisis.

We call on all South Africans who will be driving to check their vehicles properly before embarking on the journey, stick to a safe following distance, abide by the rules of the road, observe and obey warning signs, get some rest every two or three hours of driving, and have sufficient amount of drinking water.  

Most of these fatalities were avoidable and have been linked to reckless, irresponsible and disrespectful human conduct such as:

.Over-speeding

.Drunk driving

.Reckless overtaking

.Driver-fatigue from long and uninterrupted driving 

.Failure to use seatbelts and other restraints

.Un-roadworthy vehicles, and 

.Unlicensed and illegally licensed drivers

Members within the traffic cluster should not be deterred by all the unruly conduct on the part of some of the road users, and should work hard in ensuring the safety of all road users against all odds. 

We remain unwavering in our resolve to defend collective bargaining, and it is worth noting that we can only retain those rights that we are ready to defend, and that we will only lose those that we do not fight for. If we do not defend the right to collectively bargain, we will be forced to individually beg as workers.

It is our collective responsibility to remain battle ready to push back against this anti-worker neoliberal offensive that is directed at workers both in the public and private sector.  We must treasure our unity, consolidate their cooperation, and avoid being divided by narrow sectarian differences.

POPCRU will not stand idle whilst the government and employers have embarked on an agenda to undermine collective bargaining and rights of workers.

This forms part of the broader neoliberal which is centred on austerity measures which includes amongst others: budget cuts, retrenchments, outsourcing of services and freezing funded vacant posts. 

In defeating these characteristics, and in achieving our set goals, we need to take seriously the task of building and strengthening our structures at every level of the union. We need to intensify our membership and recruitment strategies; we need to intensify all our defined programs. 

Issued by POPCRU on 09/12/2021

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349

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