The City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith has refuted the claims of a potential safety management crisis in Cape Town, accusing the trade union South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) of having possible political motivations behind their recent outcry. This follows a warning by SAMWU that Cape Town beaches could be vulnerable to crime this festive season if the City of Cape Town and Law Enforcement officers represented by the union fail to reach an agreement on a series of disputes and grievances.
SAMWU said the demands of 500-600 Law Enforcement officials represented by them in Cape Town revolve around issues of abuse, overtime and the times officials are required to work. A memorandum was handed over to the City on Saturday, containing a detailed list of demands and grievances.
SAMWU’s Cape Metro organiser, Archie Hearn says that officials want to be absorbed into the formal structures of the City and not work precariously through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) on a three-year contract basis.
Alderman JP Smith, however, says there has been an ongoing conversation with Law Enforcement staff and that he engages with them directly. He indicated that the City has been faced with many of these issues for a while now and accused SAMWU of being “late to the party”.
Smith also says that the overtime issue is misrepresented and acknowledged that overtime is voluntary while adding that many workers “are super keen to do overtime” because this enables them to earn extra money during the festive period. He reasoned that perhaps the re-emergence of these issues is a sign of frustration as a result of the slow-moving progress in matters relating to them, due to government red tape. Smith also suggested, however, that some political motivations could be behind the issues being raised by SAMWU in the manner in which they have been.
“I’m particularly passionate about elevating the profile of Law Enforcement, which is why I lobbied for their powers to be increased,” said Smith, essentially placing himself as a friend of Law Enforcement officials.
Smith argued that the City is trying to do the best it can for Law Enforcement officials in all regards and essentially accused SAMWU of having a history of being unhelpful in disputes of this nature.
The City has assured Capetonians and tourists that it is well prepared for the festive season and that there is no risk of any security crisis.
“We are bringing a lot of resources on board. A huge amount of staff will work and we’ve got a massive overtime budget… we’ll be able to put a lot more resources in this time to make people safe.”