Of­fi­cers take Par­lia­ment to court

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Hav­ing moved quickly to re­cruit po­lice into the ranks of the par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vices, Par­lia­ment now has to deal with the con­se­quences as 69 over­looked pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers have taken the na­tional leg­is­la­ture to the labour court for un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Par­lia­ment speed­ily re­cruited of­fi­cers from the SA Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) in July 2015 to be­come part of its pro­tec­tion ser­vices in a bid to en­force a new rule which pro­vided for dis­rup­tive MPs to be force­fully re­moved from the House.

The hir­ing of the po­lice of­fi­cers with­out par­lia­men­tary ex­pe­ri­ence, at bet­ter terms and con­di­tions, led to ten­sions.

City Press re­vealed in May last year that Par­lia­ment reshuf­fled its staffing struc­ture to cre­ate new po­si­tions to ac­com­mo­date the for­mer po­lice of­fi­cers at a bet­ter an­nual pay of up to R150 000 more than the ex­ist­ing team of par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vice of­fi­cials.

The so-called bouncers were hired as “cham­ber sup­port of­fi­cers” – a new job ti­tle which sep­a­rated them from ex­ist­ing pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers and in ef­fect split the par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vice.

Now, 69 pro­tec­tion ser­vice of­fi­cers have ap­proached the labour court seek­ing an or­der which would force Par­lia­ment to re­mu­ner­ate them and pro­vide them with the same terms and con­di­tions of em­ploy­ment as the bouncers.

This, they want done ret­ro­spec­tively to the date of the bouncers’ ap­point­ments.

Al­ter­na­tively they are seek­ing an or­der that they be paid the dif­fer­ence in re­mu­ner­a­tion for the same pe­riod that the newly ap­pointed cham­ber sup­port of­fi­cers were paid a higher re­mu­ner­a­tion pack­age.

The of­fi­cers also want com­pen­sa­tion “for hav­ing been dis­crim­i­nated against”.

In court pa­pers, they state that they have been em­ployed in the unit for a pe­riod rang­ing from five to 25 years on salary scale B1 (en­try level of R263 824 to max­i­mum of R315 908 per an­num) and B2 (en­try level of R304 427 to max­i­mum of R367 493 per an­num).

Some of the bouncers were ap­pointed on C1 (with en­try salary of R416 091) and oth­ers on C2 (with en­try salary of R525 027) “for be­ing re­quired to per­form only a mi­nor part of the job re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers as per the job de­scrip­tion”.

The pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers state in the court pa­pers that they were in­formed in Au­gust 2015 that, due to a res­o­lu­tion that passed in the Na­tional Assem­bly, it was de­cided that the ca­pac­ity of pro­tec­tion ser­vice would be en­hanced to as­sist in the cham­bers.

“They were fur­ther ad­vised that, to ex­pe­dite the process, it was de­cided with par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vices man­age­ment that the es­tab­lish­ment of the ‘new unit’ will be done in two phases – with one phase re­cruit­ing from the SA po­lice ser­vices be­cause the ex­ist­ing par­lia­men­tary of­fi­cers did not have the nec­es­sary ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The sec­ond phase would be open to ex­ist­ing par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion staff only.

“At no stage was it made known what the ‘nec­es­sary ca­pa­bil­i­ties’ were and no for­mal HR pro­cesses were fol­lowed in ap­point­ing the new cham­ber sup­port of­fi­cers…”

The ap­pli­cants dis­pute that there was a need to source pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers from the SAPS on the ba­sis of the so-called nec­es­sary ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

In court pa­pers, the pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers re­veal that the ap­point­ments of the bouncers cre­ated an at­mos­phere of “com­plete un­hap­pi­ness” within pro­tec­tion ser­vices, es­pe­cially given that the new of­fi­cers were earn­ing higher salaries for do­ing one part of the po­si­tion of pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers and work­ing fewer hours.

The court pa­pers also re­veal that when Par­lia­ment ad­ver­tised for the sec­ond phase of pro­tec­tion of­fi­cers, the min­i­mum re­quire­ments were stated to be matric and five years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in a se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in some cases, and a matric with eight years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in a se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment with su­per­vi­sory ex­pe­ri­ence, re­spec­tively, for some po­si­tions.

“There was no men­tion in the ad­ver­tise­ments of the so-called nec­es­sary ca­pa­bil­i­ties that were re­quired in or­der for Par­lia­ment to source the ini­tial in­take in Phase 1 from the SAPS rather than ad­ver­tis­ing and ap­point­ing em­ploy­ees al­ready em­ployed within pro­tec­tion ser­vices,” reads the court state­ment.

The ap­pli­cants claim that, since the ar­rival of the cham­ber sup­port of­fi­cers, they are pur­pose­fully ex­cluded by their man­ager from cer­tain tasks, and func­tions and uni­lat­eral changes have been made to their job de­scrip­tions.

By Thurs­day, Par­lia­ment had not yet filed re­spond­ing pa­pers. Its spokesper­son, Manelisi Wolela, said the leg­is­la­ture would study the doc­u­ments and re­spond ac­cord­ingly.

At no stage was it made known what the ‘nec­es­sary ca­pa­bil­i­ties’ were and no for­mal HR pro­cesses were fol­lowed in ap­point­ing the new cham­ber sup­port of­fi­cers…

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