Discontent among EMPD ranks comes a long way

Kempton Express learned about the unhappiness among Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) officers a month ago.

Last month a disgruntled officer told Express he was unhappy with his job circumstances. His story painted a bleak picture of a low salary, cut overtime and a lack of promotion opportunities.

On Monday it reached breaking point when the officers gathered at their head office on Margaret Avenue, demanding their promised promotions.

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Following the officer’s interview, three other metro officers gained the courage to share their stories too. Although all of them come from different sectors, all four officers’ complaints overlapped.

Officer John* has been a traffic officer for 10 years. “My dad was a traffic officer and I always dreamed of following in his footsteps,” he said. According to him, his dad told him to leave his beloved career because it is no longer worth it.

“Last year, 700 wardens were employed R10 000 a month each. In August last year, these employees received an increase of R4 000. I have been in the industry for ten years and they only earn R1 000 less than I do.”

After complaining, John said he and fellow colleagues received an increase of R2 000. This, according to him, is not enough to get by. What makes matters worse is that the metro has started cutting officers’ overtime.

“They want to make it 20 hours by the end of March. Then, apparently, they want to take away overtime completely.”

As officers are paid extra for working overtime, John said he would have to resign if this happened.

According to him, these low salaries have influenced the way metro officers do their jobs. “If someone had to call me now and say there’s a crime, what’s the point of racing there and putting myself in danger for the money we get?”

Second officer Robert* has also worked for the metro police for 10 years. “Working for such a small salary and having to take care of a family is not worth it,” he told Express.

“Last year, the mayor promised us that he was going to increase our salary scale but nothing happened.”

Robert added that residents were quick to complain about the metro police. “People always say we do nothing. At night, there are only two people on duty and eight during the day. It’s impossible for us to be everywhere.”

Constable Steven*, who has been working for the metro for 23 years, shed some more light on the salary issue within the department. According to him, people who are doing exactly the same jobs as other officers, are getting paid more.

“We have people who have been working in our offices for more than ten years but they don’t get promoted. Then, we see guys straight out of college earning more,” he said. “We quickly learned that it’s all about who you know.”

After an inquiry, Steven was told officers would be promoted because 60 positions were available. However, 123 officers are underpaid.

“The metro is busy implementing new structures. I believe they are just playing for time. If people are promoted after the new structures, the metro might argue that they were simply transferred and not promoted. If this happens, these people won’t receive years of back pay.”

This, Steven said, made him feel hopeless. “I’ve thought of quitting but this work is all I know.”

Officer Nick* has also worked for the metro for 23 years. He has a national policing diploma, a traffic diploma and a BA degree. However, he has never been promoted. He said that he was not alone.

“It’s happening to everyone, no matter their gender or race.” According to him, the salary grading within the metro police is wrong.

“Rapid advancements, where people are automatically promoted after a set number of years, have not been implemented. “One guy started in 2002. He flew through the ranks so quickly that he’s now a chief superintendent, while others are still constables.”

*Names have been changed to protect these officers’ identities

  AUTHOR
Paula-Ann Smit
Journalist

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