PRETORIA - The African National Security and Allied Workers' Forum (SANSAWF) has concluded its national congress in Pretoria with threats of a crippling strike across South Africa if the ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the National Bargaining Council do not bear fruit.
Speaking to African News Agency (ANA) on Saturday, after the conclusion of the national congress where she was re-elected unopposed, SANSAWF general secretary Anna Mashigo said that despite employers' revised offer of five percent, a crippling strike in the private security sector is imminent.
"The employers are still offering five percent, and this means a showdown by means of a strike is imminent. As much as we would want to avoid a strike, you can see that it is imminent. We are not going to allow employers to intimidate us. We are negotiators of course, trying to avoid a strike, but if there is a push, we will go on strike," said Mashigo.
"Employers must know that we will fight and fight until our salaries are being adjusted. We are still engaging at the moment. We are very responsible leadership, and we know how to negotiate. We will ensure that we get as much as we can before we can take our members to a strike."
Private security unions, including SANSAWF, Abangobi, SAAIWU, DUSWO, DETAWU, KAWU, SATUWA, NASUWU, and PTAWU and are calling for a minimum wage of R7500 for a Grade C security officer, R8000 for Grade B, and R8500 for Grade A. Currently, a Grade C security officer takes home R4377, Grade B R4891, and Grade A R5557.
These unions represent a reported 150,000 security and allied workers manning shopping malls, residential properties, universities, and government institutions, including hospitals.
Prominent anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said South Africa could not afford another protest action by private security personnel, as this would leave the lives of many people at the mercy of marauding criminals.
"First of all, it is the right of anyone to go on a legal strike, but the security industry specifically has a leading role to play. We know that during the last security officers' strike a number of people were killed. It was weeks of labour action. We cannot afford [another private security sector strike], especially in view of the high crime rate. It will give the criminals an opportunity to continue to run amok, it will cause mayhem.
"It will put the lives of innocent people at risk. I hope that the employers and the employees can come to an urgent resolution to make sure that the strike does not happen. I remain confident that both parties are still on the table and can come come to a conclusion as a matter of urgency," Abramjee said.
The private security industry in South Africa was "very important, as police are finding it very difficult to cope". He called on employers to remunerate security personnel properly and ensure that they continue making their contribution to a safer South Africa.
Before the five percent wage increase on the table, employers had previously offered an increase of 1.1 percent to workers.
Figures released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) this week showed that housebreaking is the number one crime in the country, and there was a significant rise in the number of street robberies.
There were about 32,000 incidents of hijacking of motor vehicles in 2018/19. This included hijacking of trucks. About 0.08 percent of individuals aged 16 and older were hijacked. About 85 percent of all hijackings were reported to police.
For the same reporting period, according to Stats SA's Victims of Crime Report for 2018/19, there were about 500,000 incidents of assault experienced by 0.7 percent of individuals aged 16 or above. The most likely victims of assault were males and young adults. About 50 percent of victims reported the assault to police.