The South African Federation of Trade Unions fully supports the 5 000 SAPS emergency call centre operators, members of the South African Policing Union, who went on strike on 19 July 2017, and calls on all workers to support this fight for Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value.
SAFTU and SAPU, and particularly the workers themselves, fully understand the serious implications of this strike and sympathise with the public who are deprived of a vital public service. But this has been cynically exploited by the management to blackmail their staff into working for less than other call-centre workers who are doing exactly the same important work.
These workers are bread-winners. On average every employed workers support 15 dependents. They cannot be expected to see their families suffer because their employers will not agree to pay a living wage. A strike is an absolute last resort after months of attempts to reach a negotiated settlement and we urge the employers to return to the table with an improved offer as soon as possible.
SAPU are calling on SAPS to increase their current salary level of 10111 staff from level 5 to level 7, an estimated increase of R50 000 per annum.
In February 2013, 10111 workers met with the SAPS senior officials to address members’ concerns regarding their salary level at call centres which is not on the same level as other government call centres, despite being the busiest emergency call centre with a higher work load than the others.
- The then National Commissioner General Phiyega instructed that a task team be formed to benchmark their salaries against a few government call centres at Home Affairs, SASSA, SARS, Crime stop and Presidential hotline. It was completed on 30th April 2016 and the report was compiled and submitted to the Provincial office.
- The task team recommended that the salary level at 10111 should be upgraded to salary level 7 (R226 211 p/a) which was also approved by the provincial management which includes the Provincial Commissioner. The Provincial Commissioner then sent the benchmarking report to the Acting National Commissioner General Phahlane for approval.
- The Acting National Commissioner then sent his Organizational Development (OD) team to do a Job Evaluation of the post of 10111 call centre agents. The job evaluation was completed around October 2016 and it also recommended Salary Level 7.
- After realizing that the employer was not implementing the recommendations of the Task team and OD report, 10111 members decided to organize a march to the Acting National Commissioners office. The SAPS management requested an urgent meeting at Gauteng 10111 on the 12th of December 2016. During that meeting L.t General Makgato confirmed again that the OD report recommends that 10111 should be upgraded to level 7 and so therefore there was no need for a march as they will be implementing the recommendations soon.
- The matter was then taken to the SSSBC for a collective agreement but then the employer somersaulted declaring that they will not upgrade members to level 7 but instead they will convert the posts of the 10111 from Public Act to Police Act of which members will have to apply to be appointed as constables, a move which 10111 employees blatantly rejected because constable rank is on the same salary level as level 5 (R159 000 p/a). Some workers are as low as Level 3!
- The whole purpose of this process was to upgrade members to a better salary level according to their work. Some of the members are already on level 6 (R168 00 p/a) therefore the constable post will be a demotion to them. As a result on the 28th of April 2017 the members of Gauteng 10111 organized a march to the Acting National Commissioners Office to handover a memorandum of demands and members were demanding the following:
– Implementation of the original OD report findings.
– Immediate implementation back-paying from the date of the confirmation.
– Denouncing the idea of converting 10111 posts into constable posts.
– Response within 7 days which ended on 10th May 2017.
- The commissioner’s office only responded on 17th of May 2017 with the same attitude that the posts will be converted to constable post as stated on the police act.
- On 6 June 2017, the workers marched again, to the Police minister’s office in Pretoria, and delivered a memorandum which gave the management 14 working days from June 6 to give SAPS management time to respond to positively to their demands, failing which SAPU would close down all 10111 centres.
But no progress has been made and the SAPU members of 10111, supported by SAFTU are therefore left with no alternative but to take strike action.
SAFTU agrees with SAPU general secretary Oscar Skommere that the South African public should be frustrated with SAPS management for the strike and not with striking operators.
“We have been negotiating with SAPS for years. We submitted our memorandum of demands two weeks ago and they initially agreed, but soon changed their minds for no reason,” he said. “SAPS even told us we are not welcome at negations because this is apparently an issue between the SAPS and its employees.”