‘Over­worked’ ad­min workers at Cape Town crim­i­nal cen­tre join 10111 strike

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SOYISO MALITI

FIF­TEEN ad­min­is­tra­tive po­lice mem­bers at the Cape Town Le­gal Crim­i­nal Record Cen­tre have downed tools in protest against un­der­staffing.

The cen­tre opened in 2000 with 45 of­fi­cials.

The re­main­ing mem­bers have joined the 10111 strike, which re­sumed on Thurs­day after man­age­ment and union bosses failed to reach a wage agree­ment.

An of­fi­cer at the cen­tre, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity, said staff had downed tools be­cause they were “over­worked”.

Po­lice ad­min­is­tra­tive workers and 10111 call cen­tre agents went on strike a fort­night ago.

“The ne­go­ti­a­tions are on­go­ing, but they’re not dis­cussing this is­sue,” said the source, who has worked at the cen­tre for more than 10 years.

“The staff morale is very low. It’s al­most like we work at a pro­duc­tion fac­tory and you can’t be pro­duc­tive like that.

“This al­lows crim­i­nals to slip through the sys­tem.”

The pri­mary func­tion of the cen­tre’s of­fi­cers was to in­ves­ti­gate crime scenes for fin­ger­prints.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions can’t be done thor­oughly if you’re rush­ing from one scene to another,” the source said.

The 15 of­fi­cers still em­ployed at the cen­tre service more than 20 po­lice sta­tions in Cape Town.

The source said the “strike was over­due” as most Level 5 of­fi­cers had not been pro­moted for sev­eral years, with some serv­ing more than 10 years on the same grade.

The staff from the cen­tre have joined the strike de­mand­ing pro­mo­tion to Level 6. The source said he had been with SAPS and on the same grade for more than 15 years.

A Level 5 ad­min­is­tra­tive worker, usu­ally a data typ­ist or clerk, earns R142 000 per an­num.

“The work­ing con­di­tions are get­ting worse and the ever-in­creas­ing crime doesn’t help,” the source said. “We’re def­i­nitely join­ing the strike.”

The cen­tre fu­fills a crit­i­cal func­tion dur­ing ar­rests, as its sys­tems de­ter­mine whether a sus­pect is a first-time of­fender or re­peat one.

Level 5 workers also have the au­thor­ity to dis­patch on- the- field in­ves­ti­ga­tors to other crime scenes.

Another of­fi­cer, who also spoke anony­mously, said he and fel­low co-workers at the cen­tre had seen Level 3 staff mem­bers be­ing pro­moted to Level 5 in 2007, while few on Level 5 have been pro­moted to Level 6.

South African Po­lice Union (Sapu) na­tional spokesper­son Al­fred Tlou said he would meet the ad­min­is­tra­tive staff be­fore com­ment­ing on the mat­ter.

Po­lice min­istry spokesper­son Vuyo Mhaga could not re­spond to queries re­lated to op­er­a­tional mat­ters.

Sapu gen­eral- sec­re­tary Os­car Skom­mere said it had with­drawn from a Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion agree­ment with im­me­di­ate ef­fect after the Po­lice and Pris­ons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) lam­basted the union.

The agree­ment stated that nei­ther party could speak to the me­dia.

Skom­mere, in a let­ter to act­ing na­tional po­lice com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Kho­motso Phahlane, said the com­mis­sioner did not un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion and had en­gaged with Sapu “on the very last pos­si­ble date”.

Skom­mere said Phahlane’s of­fice had en­tered into an agree­ment with Popcru, while it planned to en­gage Sapu at the end of the month.

Popcru spokesper­son Richard Mam­abolo said Sapu’s claim was un­true.

“They’re fab­ri­cat­ing stuff, we’re still on the ( ne­go­ti­a­tions) ta­ble. The strike is not our last op­tion yet. They were also called to the ta­ble, but now they’re call­ing for a strike again,” Mam­abolo said.

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