Cele dismisses reports of looming SAPS strike as union backs down

Minister calls on police to take leadership into their confidence so issues can be sorted out

Cele dismisses reports of looming police strike as union backs down

14 March 2019

Police Minister Bheki Cele says there is no evidence that members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) will embark on strike action over long-overdue promotions.

"No SAPS member has engaged in industrial action as reported in social media.

"People that call for the SAPS to be involved in industrial action, they know they are breaking the law – our SAPS must not fall into that," he said at a briefing at the Gauteng police headquarters in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Thursday.

This comes after the South African Policing Union (SAPU) threatened to go on a national strike on Monday.

eNCA reported that SAPU president Mpho Kwinika alleged that government had reneged on promises of promotions.

"Members are willing to go on strike because of what has been seen to be an unfair treatment of the police force as a whole, the employer is taking advantage of these people. You cannot have people waiting for the matter to be resolved for 15 years when those issues have to be resolved within 60 days," he said.

Kwinika, who was present at Thursday's briefing, clarified that he was not aware of whether the industrial action would proceed on Monday.

Decision on promotions not a 'knee-jerk reaction'

"Is there going to be a strike on Monday? I don't know – but we have advised them not to. To go on strike means they are not rendering an essential service and they are not allowed to," he explained.

Cele further said that although promotions were five years overdue, the police had already administered 32 053 promotions in the current financial year.

"There is currently a backlog in the progression of employees from level 5 to level 7, they are long overdue. Approximately 32 053 members were promoted in the past financial year, this has never happened before.

"I would like to call upon the members of the police to take the leadership into their confidence, this issue will be dealt with," Cele said.

The minister emphasised that the decision to deal with the matter of promotions was not a "knee-jerk reaction" to threats of a strike but a decision that was communicated in a budget speech in Parliament in May last year.

"This is the beginning not the end – we will make sure to better the lives of our SAPS [officers].

"SAPS members occupy a very special place in our heart, we value them [and] therefore I want to caution against diluting this into political battles – it is unnecessary and opportunistic," he said.