POPCRU on the current impasse within the Public Service

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted recent developments regarding the outstanding impasse in relation to public servants’ demands around the government’s unilateral implementation of a 3% against the inflation rate of 6,7%, leading to further hostilities that have resulted in the latter intimidating workers through court interdicts, with the sole aim of defocusing and dividing workers.

We wish to categorically state that we are part of and support actions taken by public service unions who are currently mobilising against the employer in defence of collective bargaining.

As POPCRU, we have resolved last year to embark on a national march, held on the 20th of September 2022, with build-up programs including provincial lunch-hour pickets and provincial marches. These programs included submitting a memorandum of demands that among others included the following;

* Reversal of Austerity Measures/Budget Cuts

* Filling of all vacant posts

* Full implementation of PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018

* Non-implementation of all signed agreements and resolutions 

* End to police killings and rising levels of violent crime

* Development and implementation of a promotion policy and grade progression

* Employment of more workers in SAPS, DCS and Traffic

* Building of safe Police Stations for effective crime prevention

* Increase in all Danger Allowances

* Provision of tools of trade in all departments. 

* The incorporation of Public Service Act Personnel as a Category into the SAPS

* A clear upward mobility for the PSA Act in the SAPS

* An end to recruitment corruption in SAPS 

The march was about defending the hard-won gains of workers and defending collective bargaining. It was equally directed at government to do away with implementing neoliberal macroeconomic policies of austerity which have destroyed the capacity of the state to deliver on critical services especially in the criminal justice system, and this is evident with the budget cuts and spending that have weakened crime prevention and justice in the country.

Subsequently, the POPCRU Central Executive Committee (CEC held last year from 27-30 November 2022 resolved to continue with the program and to take our grievances to national parliament during this year (2023). We have since drawn up a program of action which, considering other developments within and among public service unions, will be intensified and carried out from Monday, 13 March 2023 which will include lunch-time pickets across workplaces and identified government departments.

As things stand, members within the Criminal Justice (CJC) are spending about 90% of their salaries on basic needs, while they do not qualify for RDP houses, and cannot afford bonded houses. All these challenges they face while government has been refusing to implement the Government Employee Housing Scheme (GEHS).

Our intensified actions will also include the full implementation of the 3rd leg of the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018, the reversal of the unilateral implementation of a 3% wage hike for the 2022/23 financial year and an end to austerity measures.

We reiterate once again that this 6th Administration is hell-bent on destroying collective bargaining, rights of workers and made it as its task to reverse and roll-back the gains made by workers over the years. This is evident through numerous actions and continuous appetite of approaching labour courts in resolving matters of collective bargaining as opposed of taking advantage of institutions of dialogues such as bargaining councils.

Workers have been on the receiving end of the assault by this 6th Administration in many ways, including poor working conditions despite the fact that public service workers contribute on daily basis to the betterment of the South African people, especially the working class and the poor in the frontlines of service delivery. For our work to be effective, the public service must have a strong capacity in terms of the suitable headcount of workers in different departments and work-stations. It must also have capabilities in terms of the necessary skills and ongoing training support.

Today, the public service has been severely weakened, especially with regard to its capacity because of the moratorium that has been imposed on the filling of vacancies as a result of the multiple years of the Treasury’s austerity measures. Therefore, the improvements in our working conditions, including improvement in pay, is a necessary means of strengthening the public service.

We remain resolute and reiterate our position that there shall be no 2023/24 wage negotiation until this current dispute is resolved, and urge workers to gather strength during these intimidations, and to be more resolute and determined in their fight to achieve the demands they set, and support the unity demonstrated by the multiple public sector unions as they pursue the agenda of improving their wages and conditions of employment, and in defence of collective bargaining.

Issued by POPCRU

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349