Protest over police-security guard plan

SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) employees protest outside city headquarters Tshwane House last Thursday, against a plan to replace private security guards with the metro's police officers. They also raised other long-running labour issues, such as the use of contract workers and outsourced labour. Photo: Vivien van der Sandt

Hundreds of municipal workers have protested against the plan to use metro police officers as guards to protect the city’s structures.

The new metro administration which took power in the city last August inherited what it considered an oversupply of police officers after the ANC administration recruited more than 1 000 metro police trainees.

To cut costs and run a streamlined city, the DA administration wants to redeploy the officers as guards.

The city is also worried about the R200 million a year paid to protect municipal property so it announced recently it would not renew the contracts of the private security companies currently providing the service.

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That would leave the 1 000-odd private security guards currently protecting municipal premises jobless.

SA Municipal Workers Union regional secretary Mpho Tladinyane said trade unions were not consulted about the city’s decision, and the metro was not following legal process.

The process to restructure was set out in the labour relations act and had to be followed at an appropriate bargaining forum, said Tladinyane.

“The city has decided to unilaterally restructure some of the divisions of the metro police, without first consulting labour.

“If there has not been consultation with labour on the restructuring process, we will be able to tell our members not to respond to that request by the employer. This is what we have told our members.”

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Samwu previous in opposed the outsourcing of services, and according to the metro, its plan to use its employees – metro police – to to protect city property would be the answer.

Said Tladinyane: “We have always advocated that municipal services which were outsourced must be insourced. But when you do that process, it is consultative in nature and we must be taken on board.”

Protestors also railed against the city’s use of contract workers.

City manager Moeketsi Mosola accepted a memorandum from Samwu and said the city would respond to the union within the seven-day deadline.

Mayor Solly Msimanga said: “We have continuously expressed our commitment to free, democratic and constructive labour relations and engagement [with all parties].

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The city could not continue paying in excess of R200 million a year to private security when there were other, more affordable options.

The city thought long and hard about how best to optimise existing resources to ensure that the protection of our assets was done in a manner that was cost effective.

The city had identified human capital within the metro police which could serve the functions of guarding the city’s strategic assets with the help of an additional 1 187 police officers who would collectively provide security services at the city’s properties.

We cannot afford to absorb every contract worker into the city due to the precarious financial position in which we find ourselves, thanks to the previous administration.

This is for that sake of the viability of the city and its finances.

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Claims that the city refused to absorb employees were simply not true, as evidenced by the absorption of employees from Sandspruit Works Association which included meter readers.

Of the R210 million budgeted for overtime in the 2017/18 financial year, R110 million will be used to create employment in the places where we need it most.”

The city would target artisans such as plumbers and electricians “who actually do the work to provide better services for our people”.

“I am mindful that cities do have some immediate job creation capacity through expanded public works programme. We aim to create 23 000 such opportunities in the foreseeable future.

“Security personnel will have access to these opportunities on a needs basis.”

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Vivien van der Sandt

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