SA Private security sector signs four-year pay deal for above-inflation raises

The South African private security sector has signed a four-year wage deal that will see workers earning more than R7,000 a month in the last year of an agreement seen as strengthening labour peace and stability in the sector. In the first year of the deal, which comes into effect in March 2023, employees will get a 13% increase, double the headline inflation rate of 6.5% the Reserve Bank has forecast for 2022.

In the second year of the agreement, which was signed at the National Bargaining Council for the Private Security Sector (NBCPSS) at Midrand, workers will get a 6.5% increase, followed by a 7.5% hike in years two and three.

SA’s private security industry, which employs about 500,000 security personnel and has an estimated annual turnover of $6bn, experienced massive growth over the years as property developers, retail giants, the mining industry, the public sector, high-net worth individuals, captains of industry and private citizens turn to the sector for security.

The private security sector, which employs far more people than the 180,000 employed by the SA Police Service (SAPS), played a crucial role in the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng after the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma in July 2021. In the wake of this unrest, which claimed more than 300 lives, the government said it will employ 12,000 more police before the end of the year as part of an effort to rebuild the SAPS.

The unions, including the SA National Security and Allied Workers’ Forum and the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union, initially demanded a 16% wage increase and then declared a deadlock when the parties could not reach agreement.

Speaking for the Security Association of SA (Sasa), the Consolidated Employers Organisation and the SA National Security Employers’ Association at a media briefing at the NBCPSS, security industry veteran Franz Verhufen said: “This four-year agreement will take us to 19 years of bargaining without a strike. The last strike [in the sector] was in 2006.”
He commended the parties for the way they conducted themselves during negotiations that started in March/April.

Verhufen said the employers’ perspectives on the wage deal was that the “economic conditions are not the best at the moment, [we are] still feeling the effects of Covid-19”. He added that it was “extremely difficult” to get into the wage talks. The agreement, he said, would be forwarded to employment & labour minister Thulas Nxesi to gazette and extend across the sector.

Khumbulani Moyo, a spokesperson for the private security sector unions, said about 28 unions supported the wage deal which he believed was taking the industry in the right direction. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration’s (CCMA) national senior commissioner for collective bargaining, Haroun Dockrat, said the parties showed a commitment to reach common ground during negotiations. He described the negotiations as a long journey that culminated in a four-year agreement that “will usher in 19 years of industrial labour peace”.