SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter. (image source: Twitter)
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) Tax Collector’s online suite of services has ensured minimal disruption of services amid the ongoing industrial action within the organization.
The Civil Servants Association (PSA) and National Union of Education, Health and Allied Workers (Nehawu) unions yesterday started their strike against SARS after failing to reach an agreement on wages 2022/23.
While workers are demanding a 7% raise, the taxman has dug in, telling labor organizations the figure is unaffordable.
According to the PSA, “SARS employee morale is at an all-time low because their employer has, over the past three years, unilaterally removed or changed their benefits. SARS also has not implemented the final stage of a three-year wage agreement that was signed in 2019.”
Nehawu explains that the strike “comes after reaching an impasse to reach a wage agreement for the 2022/2023 bargaining circle after the intransigent employer tabled a 0% offer, a much lower offer than what we have. presented as our request”.
Employees later rejected a revised last-ditch offer of R500 million by SARS, which sought to avoid industrial action.
According to Business Day, the workers said the revised offer would result in a pay rise of just 1.3% and a one-time cash bonus of R3,000.
In a statement released yesterday, the tax authority confirmed the industrial action, saying it ‘noted that unions had chosen to engage in industrial action despite concerted efforts by SARS to avert the strike’.
SARS says it believes its offer, to which it has received no response, is the best given the socio-economic challenges facing the country.
The revenue department is also constrained by the resources available to it through the funding grant, he adds.
SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said, “I understand and understand the financial challenges faced by our own employees at SARS, and all employees across the country. In fact, all South Africans, especially the millions of unemployed, are feeling the impact of the current economic climate.
The tax office declares: “The SRAS would like to point out that the first day of the strike took place in order, without incident, and thanks the employees for having exercised their rights, while respecting the rights of others and the law.
“Due to the wide range of online services, disruption to operations has been minimal. Over the next few days, we will continue to monitor the progress of our branches. Our website will be continually updated to advise the public on how to engage with SARS to fulfill its required obligations.
SARS is urging taxpayers to avoid visiting its offices amid the industrial action, saying they should use online services instead.