Half a million SA security guards may go on strike soon, unions warn

Half a million private security workers in South Africa may start to strike next month, as unions have not found common ground with employers at wage talks. This was the warning issued by Kungwini Amalgamated Workers Union (Kawu) at a press briefing. The union is working alongside 28 other unions in the sector, and issued a joint statement with the other unions. This week, the unions estimated that 500 000 private security personnel could join their strike.

Unions are demanding that employers implement increases of 16.14% in the first year, 14.12% in the second year, and 12.37% in the third year. They also want assurance that employees’ Private Security Sector Provident Fund contributions will not rise beyond 7.5% over the next three years.

Kawu said in a joint statement that unions tabled a proposal to declare a national strike.
“The employers’ continued pessimistic approach is leaving us with no option as leaders of the unions, and we are moving towards having all our private security officers going on a national strike.

“Unfortunately this will lead our beautiful country to a standstill as it transpired in 2006. We don’t want confrontation with the employers but we are left with no choice, our security officers are suffering, we all know how basic needs of everyday life are skyrocketing because of various challenges confronting the world,” the statement said. In 2006, the private security sector faced a strike in Johannesburg, which turned violent and led to 60 deaths.

The statement said that “refusal” by the sector’s employers to improve workers’ salaries was unacceptable as some security officers were earning less than R6 000. The statement said workers will be submitting draft picketing rules and are expected to sign picketing rules thereafter.

But, Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann denied that there was a deadlock in the ongoing negotiations. He said the parties have agreed to two further dates to continue the wage negotiations. “We are confident that a mutually acceptable collective agreement will be concluded during those meetings as the parties are continuing to engage collaboratively on the various issues,” said Bartmann.

Deputy secretary-general of the Saftu-aligned Democratised Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union (Detawu) Vusi Ntshangase said the union supported the strike and was already mobilising in preparation for the industrial action. The Cosatu-aligned South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) said it was currently in the process of submitting picketing rules and would work with employers to finalise the arrangements