‘The SAPS is exploiting us’: Court order looms as 10111 workers continue strike

2017-08-11 16:30

The South African Police Services will bring an urgent application to the labour court against the South African Policing Union, to prevent striking 10111 call centre employees from picketing today.

The strike action has intensified over the last few weeks, with some members damaging vehicles when they were protesting outside the Midrand offices yesterday.

“Since Friday last week, 10111 employees affiliated to the union, who are striking at the Midrand Call Centre, have been sporadically intimidating and threatening non-striking employees.

"Yesterday, these unlawful acts escalated into them hurling objects at and damaging state vehicles,” Major-General Sally de Beer said this morning.

Speaking to City Press this morning, Oscar Skommere, the union’s general secretary, said that while things did get out of hand yesterday, it was as a result of SAPS not wanting to meet their demands.

In future all pickets would be managed better in order to avoid things “getting out of hand”.

In 2013, a national task team, which was put together by former police commissioner Riah Phiyega benchmarked the 10111 workers’ salaries against other call centres in the country including home affairs, the South Africa Social Security Agency, the South African Revenue Service, crime stop and the presidential hotline call centres.

The task team recommended that the salary level at 10111 should be upgraded to salary level seven (about R226 211 a year) – but they were offered less than this.

“SAPS is prolonging the issue. They are offering us less money than what [other] employees currently earn.

"The workers are very angry because SAPS is not putting anything in place. But we are happy to welcome the support from other unions to help intensify the strike,” Skommere said.

Both the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa) and the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) have pledged their support for the strike, saying that the workers rights were being violated by the South African Police Services.

“Numsa condemns SAPS management for refusing to pay these employees what they are worth.

"They are violating the principle of equal pay for work of equal value and are exploiting workers,” Numsa acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi said this morning.

Saftu has meanwhile called on members to join today’s picketing, which is being held at various 10111 offices countrywide.

“Saftu pledged that if no progress was made by August 11, we would call for solidarity action and the federation has therefore called on all its members to join the pickets,” the union said today.

In June the workers threatened a national shutdown of all its call centres, but up until now, except for the Midrand branch, the 10111 branches seem to be operational despite workers striking.

READ: 10111 workers threaten Mbalula with national shutdown

“Contingency plans are still in place at all 10111 call centres, which continue to run efficiently with the strike having a minimal effect on service delivery.

"Problems have only been experienced at the Midrand Centre, Gauteng and we call upon policing union-affiliated employees to stop unlawful acts aimed at forcing others to join the strike,” De Beer said.

When City Press called the 10111 centre this morning, the call was answered almost immediately.

A meeting is currently under way between acting national commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba and the policing union with the aim of reaching some sort of agreement.

Avantika Seeth
Multimedia journalist
City Press
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March 18 2018