South Africa: SARS Commits to Resolve Wage Negotiation Impasse

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has reiterated its commitment to resolving the ongoing industrial action with organised labour.

SARS staff have been on strike since May over a wage negotiation impasse.

In May, SARS said it did not have the resources to meet the labour demand of CPI plus 7%.

After engaging with organised labour, SARS made a proposal to reach a final settlement.

This included an across-the-board increase of 1.5% for permanent employees in the bargaining unit, backdated to 1 April 2022.

In a statement on Wednesday, SARS said this was on condition that should the broader public sector negotiations be resolved at an increase of higher than the 1.5%, National Treasury will accordingly make additional funding available towards the settlement agreement.

“SARS will be guided by this, and adjust its offer to its employees to be on equal terms,” it said.

Beyond this was a commitment to engage and conclude the broader Employee Value Proposition, which will include financial and non-financial elements; and other items tabled by the unions during the negotiations at the SARS National Bargaining Forum (NBF).

SARS said: “The slight adjustment to the across-the-board proposal is possible due to projected savings from a delay in recruitment against an initial plan. In the spirit of transparency and a commitment to resolving the dispute, SARS management has decided to allocate the savings towards the increased salary proposal.

“Parties agreed that the unions embark on a mandate-seeking process on this offer. Strike action was suspended by the Public Servants Association (PSA) during this mandate-seeking process, while NEHAWU [National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union] has not formally communicated its intentions to SARS.”

The revenue collector said it had noted with concern various isolated incidents of intimidation and violence committed by some strikers.

In this regard, SARS said it would will take necessary action against the strikers that are violating its Code of Conduct, and/or those who have broken the law.

“SARS reaffirms its commitment to respect the right of employees to strike. The strikers are enjoined by labour law provisions to exercise this right peacefully, and respect the rights of employees who choose to work, as well as taxpayers who seek to fulfil their obligations in law.

“SARS has put contingency measures in place to mitigate the negative impact on services as far as possible. We thank taxpayers for their patience during this challenging period, and apologise unreservedly for any delayed response to service requests. We request taxpayers and traders, as far as possible, to avoid coming to SARS branches, but to instead continue to interact with SARS through our self-help digital channels.

The movement of cargo from the land and sea ports of entry have continued without any hindrance.”

The revenue collector said it remains empathetic to the plight of many South Africans, including its own employees, who face economic hardships and rising prices of food and fuel.

“We remain sincerely appreciative to those SARS employees who, through this period, contribute to our success, and for their continued commitment to deliver the essential service in support of our mandate,” read the statement.