/ 26 August 2010

Court blocks police from joining strike

Court Blocks Police From Joining Strike

An interim interdict that prohibits all members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) from embarking on a strike was granted by the Labour Court in the early hours of Thursday morning, a national police spokesperson said.

The interdict further prohibits the police and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) from promoting, encouraging or supporting participation in a strike by all members of the SAPS, Brigadier Sally de Beer said.

She said employees of the SAPS render essential services to the community and as a result they were prohibited from striking in terms of section 65(1)(d) of the Labour Act.

“Employees of the SAPS, both those employed under the South African Police Service Act and those employed under the Public Service Act, may not — in terms of the SAPS Act and in terms of this interim
interdict — withhold their labour or participate in strike action.”

“Any contravention of this prohibition will lead to disciplinary action being taken, which may include summary dismissal from the police service, De Beer said.

SAPS management approached the court after Popcru announced on Wednesday that about 145 000 police and traffic officers, together with prison warders, will be joining the ongoing national public-service strike on Saturday.

The strike has seen hospital services, schools, courts and other public services disrupted for more than a week as workers demand an 8,6% salary increase and a R1 000 monthly housing allowance.

The workers have rejected government’s offer of 7% and a R700 allowance.

‘Killing the environment to create a settlement’
Meanwhile, there will be no political intervention to resolve the public-sector strike, the ANC said on Wednesday.

“It is a misnomer that when there is a strike in the public sector it is a political strike that requires presidential intervention,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said.

Mantashe called on union leaders and the public sector to refrain from making “reckless statements”, saying the parties involved should instead invest more time and energy in finding solutions to the matter.

“You are killing the environment to create a settlement. You are killing that space,” he said.

Mantashe said it was up to the unions and the government to continue negotiations.

“I believe those negotiating teams have a responsibility. They should engage their principles but ultimately find solutions,” he said.

‘Lives are being lost’
The marathon strike and threats to “shut down” the economy triggered a chorus of appeals and warnings from the government and politicians on Wednesday.

“The government is extremely concerned about the inflammatory nature of some statements by a number of role-players, including trade union leaders,” government spokesperson Themba Maseko in an evening statement.

“These statements, including the threat to shut down the economy, are unhelpful, unnecessary and irresponsible. Such statements serve to fuel further violence and intimidation.”

Maseko appealed for calm and responsibility, especially in view of the year-end examinations.

Earlier in the day, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the National Assembly’s health committee it was vital for the strike to come to end.

“Our major concern is to protect life and ensure that patients get the care they need,” he said.

“It is critical for the strike to end immediately, as lives are being lost.” — Sapa