File picture: Independent Media

Johannesburg - The South African Police Service (SAPS) on Friday welcomed the Labour Court decision dismissing with cost the application by the SA Police Union (Sapu) in which it sought to halt an internal disciplinary process against its 10111 striking members.

Welcoming the Thursday court ruling, the SAPS said the decision confirmed that it was within its rights to begin with disciplinary procedures following Sapu members' refusal to return to work, even though an agreement was signed ending the strike. 

''The Labour Court confirmed what the SAPS has always argued - that following the signing of a collective agreement in the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC) by the SAPS and the majority union, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) on 13th September 2017 and the subsequent referral of a dispute by SAPU to the bargaining council, the court cannot be approached as a point of first instance," said spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe. 

"The union should exhaust the SSSBC process and then approach the court as a point of a last resort for review proceedings.'' 

She said the SAPS will go ahead with disciplinary procedures. 

Sapu spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said his union did not go to court to win, but to teach the SAPS on how ''to engage constructively'' with its partners. '

"We took the legal route because we are of the view that the rule of law in South Africa is still intact. We have full confidence in the judicial processes of our country,'' he said in a statement. 

"Even now we are vindicated that the court has taught the SAPS basic rules of engagement with its social partners ... the SAPS management must swallow its pride and engage us constructively."

''We are consulting members about a way forward. If members decide to go back to work so be it. We want to stress that the strike has never been about the union or its leadership, it is about the members ... the fundamental dispute stands.'' 

Sapu members marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria last week, vowing to intensify the wage strike at 10111 call centres until their demands were met. 

The union said it refused to sign the SSSBC agreement because it did not address their demands. It also accused Popcru of being a ''sweetheart union'' that did not care about workers' interests.