ConCourt : Some cops may strike
Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court agreed that only members of the SA Police Service employed under the SA Police Service Act (SAPS Act) were engaged in an essential service, in a judgement handed down on Thursday.
This means that employees who work for the police, but are employed under the Public Service Act, are not deemed an essential service and their right to strike is not limited.
The ruling supports a Labour Appeal Court ruling in favour of the Police and Prisoners Civil Rights' Union on the subject after the Constitutional Court dismissed a challenge by the police minister. It is an interpretation of the meaning of an "essential service" as defined in the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
The importance of this determination was that only those employees who were not engaged in an essential service were able to strike. The police had submitted that the SAPS as a whole was defined as an essential service in the LRA.
The court had heard that the use of "employee" and "member" throughout the SAPS Act indicated the legislature's intention to treat the services provided by each type of employee differently.
Therefore services carried out by non-member employees were not essential, and their right to strike under section 23 of the Constitution should not be limited in any way, the court found. The minister of police could designate non-member employees as members of the SAPS if he deemed them as such in terms of section 29 of the SAPS Act.
The Court upheld the decision of the Labour Appeal Court and held that not all SAPS employees carry out an essential service.
In terms of the LRA, people deemed part of an essential service are not allowed to participate in a strike.