wages at root of row

Kingdom Mabuza and Sapa

Kingdom Mabuza and Sapa

Not once did Metro police fire at members of the SA Police Service as old issues, including sexual harassment, sparked off a confrontation between the safety and security forces in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Metro police are adamant the SAPS were the aggressors. They insist that they were in discussion with Johannesburg Metro police department (JMPD) managers at their offices in Loveday Street when heavily armed police arrived.

"The SAPS accused Samwu (SA Municipal Workers' Union) of taking management hostage. The managers themselves told SAPS that they were not hostages.

"Despite this, the SAPS threatened to fire rubber bullets at our members inside the yard," said Samwu spokesman Dumisani Langa.

This is in sharp contrast to SAPS claims that the Metro police fired live ammunition at them.

"At no time did the Metro police members return fire with live ammunition, as alleged by SAPS," Langa said.

He alleged that police officers opened fire on Metro officers as they were holding a peaceful march at the Eloff Street/M2 freeway in the city.

Langa said nine of their members were injured when police opened fire, and a woman officer was arrested.

He said concerns raised about three years ago - irregular salaries and alleged sexual harassment - were never addressed.

"We have been clear on our demand that there be no officer earning less than the agreed R8250 a month," said Langa.

The critical issues around the protest were the preferential salaries paid to some officers and the underpayment of other officers, he said.

At wage negotiations earlier this year, the City of Johannesburg and Samwu agreed that the minimum salary for a qualified officer would be R8560 a month.

But some qualified officers were being paid only R4550 a month compared to the R17000 that another officer was allegedly earning, Langa said.

The workers' demands were that they be paid the same as the officer allegedly earning R17000 a month, or that all officers be paid at least the agreed minimum of R8560 a month.

lSee pages 13 and 14