Tshwane Metro cops in May Day protest

15/04/2013. The South African Police outside the Tshwane metro council's temporary offices in van der Walt Street. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

15/04/2013. The South African Police outside the Tshwane metro council's temporary offices in van der Walt Street. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Published May 2, 2013


Pretoria - Scores of Tshwane Metro Police officers spent Workers’ Day protesting against a new shift system that was rolled out on Wednesday.

The officers, some in full uniform and others in civilian attire, gathered outside the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) head office at the corner of Es’kia Mphahlele (formerly DF Malan) and WF Nkomo (formerly Church) streets early yesterday in protest at their new eight-hour shift schedule.

Many metro police vehicles and motorcycles were parked in the tarred area next to the Total garage, across the street from the metro police offices.

Tshwane Metro Police chiefSteven Ngobeni said the protest stemmed from employees’ opposition to the new shift system.

Every five years, shifts are reconsidered, and the new system was to come into effect yesterday, Workers’ Day.

“We have to address the needs of the community when we consider time slots for shifts,” Ngobeni said.

The previous system, which lapsed in 2011, allowed for two shifts of 12 hours every day, with shift changes at 6.15am and 6.15pm.

“This means we have minimal officers on duty in peak hours between 5am and 7am and 5pm and 7pm when our services are needed most,” Ngobeni said.

The TMPD suggested the introduction of three eight-hour shifts: 5am to 1pm, 1pm to 9pm, and a night shift from 9pm to 5am.

A split shift was also suggested between 12pm and 8pm to ensure officers were available to the public during peak hours.

The Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) and the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) rejected the suggestion and maintained the 12-hour shift system would be best.

The matter was taken up with bargaining councils and the metro council, which approved the TMPD’s suggested eight-hour shift system.

“We notified each member of staff individually in writing one month before the roll-out of the new system,” said Ngobeni, adding the new shifts were shorter, more conducive to a healthy lifestyle and did not detract from employee benefits.

“As far as I know, we have not received a substantive submission from the protesting employees to state their grievances,” said Ngobeni.

He opened the floor to employees to provide valid reasons for their disagreement with the new system.

“We are public servants.

“We need to serve the public,” he said.

The TMPD, Imatu and Samwu agreed the protest was illegal .

But Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, metro police spokesman, said nobody would be dismissed.

“We have a no-work no-pay policy and the officers who did not arrive for work will not be paid,” Ngobeni warned.

Mahamba said that if the protest was the way they celebrated May Day, it was not appropriate.

“We do not run a banana department. If this was them celebrating, they did not follow the legal processes,” Ngobeni said.

The protesting officers declined to comment. Samwu and Imatu were not available for comment.

The protesters dispersed around lunch time.

Pretoria News

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