Police officers deployed to striking 10111 centres
19 July 2017
Cape Town – The South African Police Service (SAPS) has said 10111 emergency call centres will operate as normal on Wednesday when an estimated 5 000 call centre operators go on strike.
Operators, represented by the South African Policing Union (SAPU), are calling on SAPS to increase their current salary level from level 5 to level 7, an estimated increase of R50 000 per annum.
Operators are employed under the Public Service Act and are hence not considered an essential service.
SAPS spokesperson Sally De Beer told News24 on Tuesday that police officers will be deployed to 10111 call centres from Tuesday evening to fill the positions vacated by striking employees.
"Let’s make it clear, we have a constitutional imperative to provide emergency services to the public and we have made plans to ensure we continue doing our duty," De Beer said.
News24 previously reported that police officers would be deployed to 10111 call centres on June 7 when operators were expected to go on strike. At the time, SAPU said it chose to postpone strike action for 14 days to wait for SAPS management to respond to their demands.
De Beer said negotiations are underway to possibly move call centre operators from Public Service Act employees to Police Service Act employees to ensure it is registered as an essential service and hence barred from striking.
She said SAPS previously heeded a SAPU demand to increase operators' salary level from level 3 to 5 in 2014.
According to current governmental policy, level 3 Public Service Act employees can expect a salary of roughly R100 000 per annum, R130 000 at level 5 and R180 000 at level 7.
SAPU general secretary Oscar Skommere said the South African public should be frustrated with SAPS management for the strike and not with striking operators.
"We have been negotiating with SAPS for years. We submitted our memorandum of demands two weeks ago and they initially agreed, but soon changed their minds for no reason," Skommere said.
"SAPS even told us we are not welcome at negations because this is apparently an issue between the SAPS and its employees."
Skommere rejected the suggestion by De Beer to move call centre operators’ contracts from the Public Services Act to the Police Service Act.
"We have refused this offer because operators will then be entering on the level colonel which is lower than their current salary level," he said. De Beer wished not to comment on ongoing negotiations and said several options have been offered to operators.