The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has urged taxpayers to avoid visiting its offices amid industrial action by staff over wage demands.
On Wednesday, the first day of the strike, SARS said customs operations at ports of entry, especially at borders, went ahead without major disruptions.
In a statement, the tax collector said all customs border posts are operational with contingencies in place to mitigate the impact of the industrial action.
Due to the wide range of online services, disruption to operations has been minimal, he said.
The tax administration will continue to monitor the situation over the next few days.
“Our website will be continually updated to advise the public on how to engage with SARS to fulfill their required obligations.
“SARS Customs will continue to rely on the support of other government agencies at all border crossings, in particular the South African Police to ensure operations continue,” the statement said.
During the strike, SARS said the unions chose to engage in industrial action despite SARS’ concerted efforts to avert the strike.
SARS believes that its offer, to which it received no response, is the best one given the socio-economic challenges facing the country. “SARS is also limited by the resources it has available through the funding grant,” the revenue collector said.
SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said he understands and appreciates the financial challenges facing SARS employees and the general public.
He said: “In fact, all South Africans, especially the millions of unemployed, are suffering the impact of the current economic climate. SARS is a microcosm of society at large and the feeling of discontent is understandable, especially when they feel that the current situation is unlikely to change in the short term.
“Employees do not voluntarily hold back their work because that in itself has a financial impact on them in already difficult times. It must be understood, however, that when workers feel frustrated, they feel that a strike is the last resort for let them be heard.”
He said SARS recognizes the constitutional right of workers to strike and speak out within the provisions of the law.
“The important work of SARS must continue and we will take all necessary steps to balance the impact of the strike with our responsibility to fulfill the important responsibility of providing important services to taxpayers and collecting all tax revenue due. .
“This same income pays the salaries of government employees and provides the resources needed to deliver public goods and services. SARS’ work is transformative and enables government to build capacity that promotes sustainable economic growth and social development across the country. interest and welfare of all South Africans.”
No job, no pay
SARS said it explained to employees that the “no work, no pay” principle would apply, and urged the union leadership to give a formal response to its latest offer in order to break the impasse.
Kieswetter said accepting SARS’ proposal was “the best we can do under current funding constraints.”
“SARS simply does not have the resources to meet the labor demand of CPI plus 7%. I understand that our offer is not what our employees want, but it offers the possibility to resolve the current industrial action at a time when employees across the public service are affected,” he said.
He said the tax department has realized that pay and benefits have not kept up with inflation in recent years.
“In a country facing high unemployment and other socio-economic challenges, SARS employees already enjoy job security, as well as market-linked wages and benefits.
“This offer, while not in response to employee demands, will provide further relief to minimize the impact of current economic conditions. The doors to negotiations remain open and we stand ready to work with our colleagues at work to find solutions. ways to improve the overall value proposition to our employees.”
SARS called on workers to remain peaceful in their protest and to abide by picketing rules as specified in the published ACMC Picket Rules.