Workers will be watchdogs, says Popcru as it calls for a coalition government that put workers first

POPCRU President Thulani Ngwenya has called for workers to be placed first during the next administration. Photo: POPCRU

POPCRU President Thulani Ngwenya has called for workers to be placed first during the next administration. Photo: POPCRU

Published Jun 7, 2024


The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has urged the African National Congress (ANC) to place workers first as it seeks to forms a new coalition government in the seventh administration.

Popcru President Thulani Ngwenya said the union welcomed the outcome of the general elections and acknowledges that a coalition government will now be required to lead the country.

However, he said the union will reject any coalition or policies that infringe on the rights and interests of workers and has called on the ANC to align itself with parties on the left.

“We do not want anarchists or a rerun. We must have a like-minded government that respects the rule of law and the Constitution. This means that when parties come together, they will likely need to create a new manifesto, as the current party manifestos are so far apart.

“But whatever shape the seventh administration takes, the people of South Africa should be the centre of the coalition, and particularly the working class and poor. Political parties come and go, but workers remain. And, as we warned the government before the elections, the workers that it has been leading are not satisfied,” Ngwenya said.

He said the organisation is alarmed by attacks from parties such as the Democratic Alliance (DA) on the country’s labour laws and protections for workers, the National Health Insurance (NHI) bill, minimum wages, labour relations frameworks and collective bargaining processes, and transformation and black economic empowerment policies.

The union also pointed to issues regarding the DA’s Moonshot Pact.

“The Moonshot Pact has been dealt with by voters. So, how can the ANC consider getting into bed with a snake?

“We reject a DA coalition with the contempt it deserves. We do not want a minority right-wing government, or a convergence of harmful neo-liberal policies which have only entrenched poverty, inequality, and unemployment in our country,” Ngwenya said.

He further stated the ANC and its coalition partners had a very short time to prove themselves to the working class with municipal elections only 18 months away.

The union emphasised that this meant that the government must finally implement the last leg of its 2018 public sector wage agreement, after it reneged on the agreed salary increase in 2020.

It said public servants were instead allocated a small grant for two years during the pandemic. This was followed by a 3% salary increment – an amount unilaterally decided by the government – and another 4.7% wage increase this year, both of which are well below inflation.

“Workers, and particularly public servants, have been neglected and suffered over the past few years after being made to bear the expense of corruption and ‘draconian’ austerity measures, all while facing a cost-of-living crisis. This means that they are effectively in a worse position now than they were in 2017.

“As a civil rights organisation, Popcru represents the interests of the working class and the poor, and we are warning the ANC and seventh administration that workers will be watchdogs. Workers are on our own. We have to stand up and fight, or submit. We will give the new government the benefit of the doubt, but we will not be silent observers, and we will not stand idly by while the rights of workers are threatened,” Ngwenya said.

He urged the ANC to ‘pick the right path’.

“There must not be a reversal of the gains that workers have achieved. It must not compromise the working class by changing labour laws, and the transformation agenda must continue. Most importantly, it must remember its allies and stand with workers,” Ngwenya said.

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