POLICE AS WORKERS: Police labour rights in Southern Africa and beyond

  • Monique Marks University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Jenny Fleming
Keywords: police, labour law, SAPS, South Africa, unions, International Council of Police Representative Associations, Police and Civil Rights Union


Efforts by police organisations to unionise and to increase their social and labour rights is an international phenomenon, and one that is becoming  more vigorous in the Southern African region. However, many governments are wary of police unions and limit their rights, or refuse to recognise them at all. This gave impetus to the formation of the International Council of Police Representative Associations (ICPRA), in September 2006. Two of ICPRA’s aims are to assist and advise police unions all over the world and to provide the international police union movement with a voice for influencing policing futures. In South Africa, the Police and Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is assisting police in the subregion and has become a symbol of what is possible for police even in repressive states. In a rapidly changing police labour environment, police unions have the capacity to confront existing (undemocratic) occupational cultures, to promote organisational accord and to forge positive reform.

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