The affordable education loan option
Pretoria - National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega has been given seven days to respond to salary increase demands by police administrative staff.
Phiyega succumbed to pressure on Thursday that she accept a memorandum in person by thousands of Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) members who marched to her offices in the city.
She emerged surrounded by an army of body guards and public order police officers, to accept the memorandum from Popcru leaders.
The march was marred by the death of one of the protesters who was hit by a car. Police said the man, believed to be from Potchefstroom, had isolated himself from the rest of the group and was fatally injured after he was run over by a vehicle.
Although Popcru had said the march would be mainly made up of admin and support service members, some active field police officers were in the group.
Policemen from across the country descended on Pretoria on Thursday to make sure “Phiyega knows how serious we are. She cannot avoid us”, a member said.
Popcru said Thursday’s march followed the failure by the SAPS to meet the demands of workers during a series of marches in May and June.
Members are demanding SAPS management adhere to the Department of Public Service and Administration Act (DPSA) issued last year that stated all national and government departments implement the directive of upgrading the levels of all admin staff.
The memorandum stated members wanted the upgrading of all employees still working under the Public Service Act to be incorporated under the Police Service Act.
They want employees in the salary level 1-4 to be upgraded to level 5, and the upgrading of supervisory clerks to level 7.
Another of their demands was equal pay for equal value. Clear career pathing that separates operational and administration personnel was also listed.
Popcru spokeswoman Theto Mahlakoana said the police service was not exempt from the Public Service and Administration Act, yet it was the only department that failed to implement the act.
“Police management has shown absolute disregard for the needs of the administrators and other workers employed under the act, despite legal documents forcing the employer to improve their conditions,” she said.
Mahlakoana was referring to an agreement in 2011 between the SAPS and the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council that all police employees under the Public Service Act become a category of employees under the SAPS Act. This was cited in the agreement on the rank restructuring within the SAPS.
“The SAPS has reneged and literally failed to implement this agreement despite our continued pursuance to honour it to the fullest,” the memorandum read.
Initially, police representatives emerged to accept the memorandum, but the protesters’ insistence that the commissioner accept it in person eventually paid off when she emerged surrounded by body guards and public order police.
Phiyega took to the podium and accepted the memorandum, but said the demands had already been met.
An attempt to engage in Struggle songs with the group came to an abrupt end after she was booed off the podium and she returned to her office.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said it was disappointing that Popcru had again chosen the strike action route as opposed to continuing negotiations and correctly informing members about the good progress made so far. Negotiations were under way to try to meet the members’ demands as cited in their earlier memorandums, he said.
“Contrary to the statement by Popcru, management has implemented the said agreement. There is a process under way to address the remaining elements.
“A letter in response to a memorandum submitted to the provincial commissioner on May 29 and 30 and again on June 7 has outlined in detail the progress made as well as SAPS management’s commitment to implement the 2011 Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council agreement,” Makgale said.
The SAPS was not unwilling to implement the directive but it was issued after the budgetary process was finalised, he said. “To this end the SAPS has submitted a request to National Treasury for additional funding during the coming budgetary process.”
On incorporating the Public Service Act (PSA) personnel as a category under the SAPS Act, he said the SAPS supported this fully.
“However, the public service minister has to concur with such incorporation and the SAPS Act has to be amended. The review of the SAPS Act is about to start. An input in this regard will be forwarded to the legislation drafters for consideration.”
Makgale said upgrading PSA personnel from salary level 1 and 2 to 5 was a new demand Popcru had never tabled at the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council for negotiations. Phiyega had stated that the SAPS honoured agreements. As a result she would respond before the seven-day deadline, he said.