Picture: Bheki Radebe/ANA Pictures
Johannesburg - The South African Police Service (SAPS) top management has directed striking 10111 call centre staff to return to work or face disciplinary charges as the strike was unprotected.  

''This strike action, which was called by the South African Police Union (Sapu) in respect of the 10111 centre operators was initially a protected strike. However, earlier this month an agreement was entered into at the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC) to which both Popcru as the majority union in the SSSBC as well the SAPS are signatories,'' said spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo. 

"Although SAPU was not a signatory to the agreement, the said agreement is enforceable and it renders the strike action unprotected.'' 

Sapu is an affiliate to the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), a rival of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu). The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) is a Cosatu affiliate.  

Sapu members at the crime call centre first downed tools in July after wage negotiations deadlocked.  The strike was temporarily suspended a few days later as negotiations resumed at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). 

The union then resumed the strike after accusing Popcru of stalling the CCMA talks. 

The workers have demanded salary upgrades to be at same level as other call centre workers at the department of home affairs, SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), SA Revenue Services (Sars) and the presidential hotline, among others. 

The salary upgrades were recommended in 2013 by a task team set up by former police commissioner Riah Phiyega. 

Naidoo said Sapu members' strike has now been rendered illegal following the signing of the agreement. 

''Sapu has been made aware of the agreement and that they can no longer claim that the strike is protected. Unfortunately, the strike is still continuing...all striking employees have been called upon to immediately cease with such action and return to duty no later than 29 September 2017 or face disciplinary action.'' 

African News Agency