WSF (1995): “No Solidarity With Police Strikers!”

WSF (1995): “No Solidarity With Police Strikers!”

From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 1, number 1, May-June 1995. Complete PDF is here

Police unrest made news in the first quarter of 1995.

Many of the protests were organized by the South African Police Union (SAPU), which was established in 1993. SAPU demanded a 40% pay rise across the board, and a R350 allowance for all police members (and not just shift workers and detectives).

To back up its demands SAPU organized police go slows and work to rule. By early April, for instance, at least 5 stations in Soweto were barely functional.

SAPU also marched on government buildings At Tuynhuys Thabo Mbeki promised SAPU delegates that he would discuss police grievances with the Ministers of Police (Sydney Mufamadi) and Finance (Chris Liebenberg).

So far the SAPU members have had a relatively sympathetic reception from government officials. They were not shot down like police strikers organized by the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU).

In February a police striker was killed by the internal stability Unit at Orlando West. In March the army shot another striker in Umtata .

It is illegal for police to strike.

We must admit that we do not care what conditions the police work under. The police have always acted as the hired lackeys of the bosses against the workers .

While we realize that many police work under poor condition we cannot stand with the police unless they stand with us. So long as the police agree to attack strikers, youth and squatters, they are part of the problem.


About Lucien van der Walt

I teach at Rhodes University, the Eastern Cape. I’m 10th generation South African, born and bred. I have long been involved in union education, and have a background in social movement and left-wing activism, the Workers’ Library and Museum, the Anti-Privatisation Forum, and the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). I’ve presented or published 450+ papers, including conferences and workshops, co-edited 4 journal specials (on global and African labour history, and the left), and produced five books. Southern Africa editor for the 2009 'International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest' (Blackwell). I won the 2008 international ‘Labor History’ PhD thesis prize, and the 2008/2009 Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) award for best African dissertation, for my thesis on South African anarchism, syndicalism and black militants. I have also done research in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.