News : Crime Call Centre Workers Vow to Intensify Strike
Midrand, South Africa, July, 2017 -- Workers say besides being lowly paid, their working conditions at the Midrand call centre are ‘unbearable’.
Members of the SA Police Union (Sapu) have vowed to intensify their strike at the SA Police Service (SAPS) 10111 emergency call centres as the wage strike entered its second day on Thursday.
Union members Bethuel Nkuna and Motshidi Talakgale said besides being lowly paid, their working conditions at the Midrand call centre were "unbearable".
They said they also needed counselling, as they were faced with having to endure distress calls from desperate callers who sought help from police. "We have on average 40 call centre workers manning calls in a day, each picking up more than 200 calls on a quiet day.
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"Month end is the worst because with cash circulating, we receive traumatic callers, who we have to connect with the police … and while you’re trying to assist, you hear gunshots in the background, and the line goes dead … and you have to move on to the next caller," said Nkuna.
Sapu is affiliated to the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu).
Nkuna said the phones were now being manned by uniformed members of the police flying squad who have not had training on managing phone calls from distressed persons.
"The only time the employer is concerned about an employee is when they are absent from work for some time, that is when they try find out what the problem is. We have never received counselling even though they know our problems.
"We work with police, we know them on first-name basis, imagine the trauma of hearing a policeman being shot dead on the other side of the line … ours is a very difficult work."
Union general secretary Oscar Skommere said the problems at the call centre dated back to 2013 when workers met with police management to address call centre salary levels, which were not the same as those at government call centres.
He said then national commissioner Riah Phiyega instructed police management then to benchmark 10111 call centre salaries alongside those of call centres at home affairs, Sassa, Sars, the presidential hotline and others.
"The task team recommended that the salary level at 10111 be upgraded to salary level 7 [R226,000 per annum]. The job evaluation was completed around October 2016 with recommended salary level 7," said Skommere.
The problem started when the SAPS management backtracked and did not implement the recommendations. Workers then decided to march to the police head office in Pretoria in December last year, but were stopped in their tracks by management who requested a meeting, which yielded no results.
A memorandum was again delivered to management during a march in June this year, where they were given two weeks to attend to the workers’ grievances.
"No progress has been made and Sapu members at 10111 are therefore left with no alternative but to down tools and intensify this strike. We have been negotiating with the SAPS for years. They changed their minds after agreeing to attend to this matter … SAPS even told us we are not welcome at negotiations because this is apparently an issue between workers and management," said Skommere.
He said he has written a letter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which replied and offered to intervene and assist in resolving the dispute. The 24-hour crime reporting 10111 call centre deals with emergencies and complaints by the public.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Today's Tip of the Day - System Considerations
More Editorial From South African Police Service
About South African Police Service:
The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the national police force of the Republic of South Africa.
Published: Monday, July 24, 2017
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