Police will have to be taken off the streets to man the 10111 centres

CRITICAL policing functions, including the operation of emergency control centres and police stations, will grind to a halt as nearly 50 000 police administrative personnel go on strike across South Africa tomorrow.

The strike has been called by the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru). It could result in emergency calls going unanswered and crime-fighting police being removed from the streets to man telephones.

It could also lead to police being unable to visit crime scenes or do crime prevention as administrative staff dealing with fleet management would not be available to ensure the running of vehicles.

Central to the strike is police management’s refusal to implement a 2011 Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council agreement.

The agreement centres around the incorporation of administrative staff, who are “Public Service Act” employees, into the police, and salary increases. This would see administrative staff, including clerks, falling within the pay bracket of constables, and require the SAPS to spend R900-million more a year on salaries – money police management says it has told Popcru it does not have.

If the agreement is signed, each administrative staff member will earn roughly R20 000 more a year.

Popcru said yesterday it would not call off the strike.

Police on the ground fear the worst. “It will make working impossible. Police stations and 10111 emergency centres will battle to function,” a Gauteng flying squad member said.

“Police will have to be taken off the streets to man the 10111 centres. If they do not, we will not be able to respond to calls for help.”

Attempts to get comment from police management on what contingency plans were in place and whether last-minute emergency meetings were being held with Popcru were fruitless.

Police spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati said: “SAPS management is continuously engaging the leadership of the trade unions on the matter and all efforts are being made to avert any industrial action.”

He declined to say why police management had failed to honour the agreement.

The strike will begin in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo tomorrow.

Gauteng administrative staff will go on strike on Thursday while clerks in North West will join next week.

Popcru general secretary Nkosinathi Theledi said nearly 48 000 administrative staff would strike. “They include staff in logistics, call operators in 10111 centres and police stations, and fleet management officials.”

Theledi said the strike was to force police management to honour the 2011 agreement. “Management knew about it two years ago . . . they knew they had to budget, but they chose not to.

“They chose to ignore a legally binding document.

“They have never approached us to negotiate after signing.

“The only talking will be to ensure administrative staff receive the benefits they are legally entitled to.”

He said failure to adhere to the agreement would see further marches in the next two weeks.

The strike comes as the provincial portfolio committee on safety and security visits 10111 centres in the Eastern Cape to assess their state of readiness.

Safety and security portfolio committee member Bobby Stevenson said the strike would not interfere with the tour, which started in Mthatha and ends in Port Elizabeth later this week.