The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) supports the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) National Day of Action which is to take place on the 7th of October 2020, in defence of collective bargaining, against corruption, job losses and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) among others.
POPCRU encourages its members, who will be off-duty on the day, to join these COSATU provincial activities, where memorandums will be delivered.
Many of our members within the Criminal Justice Cluster continue to be faced by numerous, long standing challenges that have been ignored over the years, and despite our successes in certain areas, a lot still needs to be done in improving our conditions, and the actions to be taken in the next week are but part of the broader challenges intrinsically linked to our specific departmental challenges.
It is therefore in our common interest, regardless of affiliation or sector, to take up this platform in defending workers’ rights, and the future of our country.
· Covid-19 impact on the Criminal Justice Cluster
Workers in the Criminal Justice Cluster, as well as others within the broader public sector have not been paid their salary adjustment since 1 April this year to date, despite their commitment to their work during the height of infections caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With over 25 000 Covid-19 infections and 350 deaths within the Criminal Justice Cluster (CJC) thus far, the pandemic has brought to the open the reality that our members, who continue to be in the frontline, continue to face unfair and unjust working conditions in the face of their indifferent superiors who have not taken to cognisance their safety measures while conducting their duties.
Most have been forced to work under strenuous conditions, being threatened of unpaid leaves during this most uncertain period, and ultimately leading to an increase in infection rates and the loss of lives.
Throughout these acts of non-compliance to agreed regulations and directives, not a single supervisor has been held accountable for the casualties incurred, and yet members are expected to carry on as though all is normal.
It cannot be tolerated that members’ lives are devalued in this fashion without consequence.
· PSCBC Agreement 1 of 2018
With the endless delays concocted by government in their attempts to disregard signed agreements, public sector workers are currently experiencing challenges relating to the non-adjustment of their hard-earned salaries, in line with the signed PSCBC Agreement 1 of 2018. To this extent, workers have unequivocally expressed their frustrations.
As a union, we remain firm in our struggle to ensure government honours this agreement to the fullest, and have, together with other unions forming part of COSATU’s Joint Mandating Committee (JMC), lodged a dispute over the barefaced refusal by government to adjust public service workers’ salaries for the last leg of the three-year agreement as agreed and signed.
Allowing government to renege on the full implementation of the binding agreement will not only further disadvantage workers, but surely collapse collective bargaining.
The public sector workers have been at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 and their dedication, good work and bravery is clearly not appreciated by government. The national treasury has also leading an onslaught against workers by trying to erode their hard-won rights and suppress their wages. This failure by government to implement the resolution undermines collective bargaining and will widen the trust deficit and poison relations. A bruising fight is looming if the government does not give workers what belongs to them.
At this point in time, we need to be wary of the government’s attempts to undermine collective bargaining, as the failure to honour signed agreements is a declaration of war.
Government’s decision to undermine its own laws and ignore its own obligations will lead to chaos. In an environment with no rules, chaos reigns, and all gains will be eroded.
We will do all in our power to fight back, and nothing will stand in our way, or stop us from defending our hard-won rights.
· On Government Employees Housing Scheme
The long-drawn-out process around the provision of housing for public servants is unacceptable. The Government Employee Housing Scheme (GEHS) came into existence as per the prescript of Resolution 7 of 2015.
Our stance has always been that public servants should be provided affordable housing through a scheme that is not linked to the exploitative banking system, and that workers should be provided housing through their pension money in the Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF).
We demand that the Minister of DPSA accelerate the process and ensure that the contract with SA Home Loans is terminated and a new viable vehicle that will administer the housing scheme is established.
· On Corruption
As trade unions, we can no longer be quiet or be reduced to voting cattle, but actively guard against all forms of corruption within all sectors of the economy.
It has become so bad that billions of rands allocated to address the country’s challenges are misdirected by certain individuals for self-enrichment, without consequence.
Not only are workers losing their benefits, but have been losing confidence, but also the will and capacity of government to fight corruption.
Corruption has emerged as among the biggest threat to our hard-won democracy since the 1994 breakthrough, and like a cancer, has been eating at the moral fibre of our society and eroding the moral standing of revolution and the cause for which our people laid down their lives.
Part of the reasons government has been a reneging from the PSCBC Agreement 1 of 2018 is due to the fact that corruption has been costing our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at least R27 billion annually, as well as the loss of 76 000 jobs that would otherwise have been created.
In its attempt to recover from this state of affairs, we should refuse that workers are made sacrificial lambs, all while the prosecution of perpetrators is moving at a snail’s pace. To this extent, we no longer need to hear of intentions, but demand that swift action be taken.
· On Danger allowance
Considering the dire conditions officers find themselves on a daily basis, be it those under the Public Service Act or those under the Police Act, both their working situations have worsened. It is on these and other basis that we call for an urgent review and increase on service allowance for SAPS Act members, and an introduction of the danger allowance for the Public Service Act employees and SAPS act members.
The allowance in the SAPS has been stagnant, at R400 since 2001. We have submitted a position paper at the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC), therein demanding the allowance to be increased to R1500, which takes into consideration that according the SSSBC Agreement 4 of 2001, the initial allowance was supposed to have been increased yearly with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), including the cost of living adjustments and the frequency of the dangers these officers find themselves.
The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) Resolution 4 of 2015 states that the danger allowance will increase with the CPI from the 1st of April every year. While we note that DCS members are covered, we also want to see this process benefitting the Public Service Act employees.
It is therefore the role of all departments to finalise their submissions to the PSCBC through their sectors on all categories of those who are supposed to get danger allowance.
· On Gender-Based Violence
Our country is becoming an increasingly unsafe place for women and children to live in. Femicide is five times higher than the global average, meaning South Africa women are five times more likely to be killed due to gender-based violence committed by men.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also exacerbated challenges faced by victims of gender-based violence in accessing justice.
As a reactive and blunt instrument, the police and courts aren’t the sole solution for dealing with this type of violence. The focus should be on changing patriarchal attitudes and behaviour, particularly in the context of how the country’s history of violent racial oppression has affected men’s identities. Still, there’s much more that the police, prosecutors and courts can do to help gender-based violence survivors.
The police are often the first responders in murder or severe assault cases, and are responsible for gathering evidence, ensuring survivors obtain medical treatment and finding them suitable accommodation. Research on domestic violence shows that some police stations don’t adequately respond to victims. They still lack dedicated and trained personnel to attend to such matters and to give victims legally correct information and other support.
As lockdown regulations are eased, there may be an increased demand for support services from survivors. This is because the factors that drive gender-based violence haven’t changed during the pandemic.
It is for these reasons that we need to work closely in ensuring our police stations become friendly-zones in ensuring more victims come forward, while ensuring pro-active mechanisms are developed in countering such acts before they occur.
This should be extended to include ensuring a standardised syllabus for our young men in teaching them the values around gender equality and entrenching values that debunk the myths encouraging male superiority.
In the long-term, the solution to South Africa’s gender based violence crisis is not to task women with the responsibility of arming and protecting themselves, but rather to change the societal narrative around women and their bodily autonomy.
The best protection is to teach nonviolence and respect for women, only then can we create a safer society for marginalised identities, so that they don’t have to protect themselves in the first place.
· On the SAPS
As POPCRU, we have been worried that there have not been sufficient efforts in attending to the urgent catastrophe of police killings and the growing attacks on police stations, and while we have identified possible causal factors, none have been acted upon. Instead, we continue to see a ballooned, top-heavy organisational structure which has demonstrated to result in unnecessary use of taxpayers’ monies while there remain challenges at station levels, ranging from under-resourced police stations and staff shortages, all which continue to undermine police efforts in decisively dealing with criminal activity.
The SAPS’s organisational structure is riddled with contradictory sub-structures that have created amongst others, the duplication of functions on top, and the paralysis of efficient policing operations at grass-root level.
We are seriously troubled by the reactive manner on this terrifying matters which worries not only the South African citizenry, but the world at large.
The killing of police cannot be just an ordinary incidents which authorities seem to care-less about. The time is now for all Police officers to defend the artillery they carry to defend themselves, the broader community and their property. Police officers must effectively defend themselves against any form of violent attack by criminals. It is our stance that we condemn any form of brutality, be it brutality against the society or against the police.
We call for the urgent implementation on long signed SSSBC Agreements that deals with promotions and grade progression of members in particular Agreement 2 of 2011 and Agreement 3 of 2011
We also call for speedily incorporation of PSA Act members into SAPS Act members, we cannot have one department with two different Acts and when it suits the authorities the other arm does not get the benefits that are received by the other whilst on other issues such as discipline, performance enhancement, working hours, and others these poor members are subjected to those.
The immediate amendment of the Criminal Procedure Act, SAPS Act, Fire-arm Control Act to enable Police officers to defend themselves with fire when under fire. Police killings should be considered as treason as they are an attack on the state.
There should be a compulsory counselling sessions for all members at least on quarterly basis given the kinds of situations that our members are faced with on daily basis.
Review of SAPS Discipline Regulations in particular the section that deals with expeditious process where a Brigadier or a General can sanction a member to dismissal without applying the Audi Alterem Partem Rule and in its current form this clause is used as a form of victimisation and to effect a speedily dismissal of members.
· On Traffic
There is a need to define and strengthen co-operation and co-ordination between the national, provincial and local spheres of government in support of their respective road traffic strategic planning, regulation, facilitation and enforcement.
We want to stress that the existence of a promotion policy is very key in the department to foster the advancement of Traffic Officers and it enhances their upward mobility and complements the attainment of the objectives of the department which allow for their personnel development. The non-existence of a Promotion Policy causes unnecessary discontent and unrest by employees.
As a representative of Traffic Officers, we cannot put a blind eye on this matter while our members are dissatisfied, demoralised and not recognised for their efforts and commitment. We require a promotion policy that will benefit all Traffic Officers, serve as an incentive for better work performance, enhance morale and create a sense of individual achievement and recognition.
Within this contextual framework, there is an urgent need to address the following matters;
Immediate action plan by the Minister to initiate a process towards nationalisation of Traffic,
The immediate development of a Promotion policy that will benefit all Traffic Officers, serve as an incentive for better work performance, enhance morale and create a sense of individual achievement and recognition,
Immediate provision of quality and sufficient uniform to all Traffic Officers suitable for ceremonial duties, winter and summer seasons
· On DCS
There has been a serious lack of leadership in Correctional Services, which has led to an escalation of challenges which include the shortage of staff, lack of uniform and heightened security risks for our members and a lack of a proper rehabilitation agenda for inmates let alone transformation, leading to correctional facilities being havens for breeding hardened criminals contrary to the mandate of the Department.
This sad state of affairs requires an urgent attention and the status quo cannot be tolerated any further and this dictates that POPCRU as an Organization must take a radical stance in defence of the downtrodden members who are at all times on the receiving and work under appalling conditions.
It is for these reasons amongst many that the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union makes a clarion call on its members to demand an end to this state of affairs, and demand the following;
The establishment of a shift system, a promotion policy, the filling of all vacant posts at lower level, special dispensation for all employees with 08+ years’ service in rank and the full implementation of all concluded agreements.
Let us go out in our numbers to support our federation COSATU in demanding an end to corruption, an end to undermining collective bargaining, an end to increasing levels of unemployment, and for the promotion of a people-centred economic growth.
Issued by POPCRU on 30/09/2020
For more information contact: Richard Mamabolo- 066 135 4349