Sars workers set to strike over pay
For the first time in a decade, SA Revenue Service employees are set to down tools in a strike over wages that could disrupt the movement of goods across the country’s borders.
A strike on Thursday could affect customs and excise, as well as walk-in branches, a day before a March 29 deadline for paying tax for the financial year.
Sars was scheduled to meet with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) on Tuesday evening in a bid to find common ground on wage and benefit negotiations that have dragged on since November. Nehawu on Tuesday afternoon said it will go ahead with the work stoppage, though it is open to negotiations if Sars tables a better offer.
Workers are demanding an 11.4% increase in a one-year deal, while Sars has offered 7% in the first of a three-year deal. The Sars bargaining council covers just fewer than 10,000 employees, with about 5,300 represented by the PSA and 4,400 by Nehawu.
Nehawu said it convened a national bargaining forum meeting on Tuesday, where it was decided to pursue the strike.
Stefan Viljoen, labour relations officer for the PSA, said if Sars made an offer in line with the 8% proposed by mediators, this would be taken back to their members for a mandate.
Viljoen said in contrast to Nehawu’s immediate decision, the PSA would wait for the meeting with Sars to conclude before taking a decision on strike action.
The potential strike comes in the wake of the agency being decimated under the leadership of former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane, who was axed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November 2018 on the recommendation of retired judge Robert Nugent. Finance minister Tito Mboweni told PowerFM on Sunday a new commissioner would be appointed this week.
Following a 2018 judicial commission of inquiry he chaired, Nugent had detailed the destruction of Sars under Moyane and recommended changes on improving governance and functioning at Sars. Sars has said the 11.4% increase demand is out of reach in the current economic climate.