Sars workers take wage dispute to the streets

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This week, strike season is set to hit the SA Revenue Service (Sars), with the biggest unions – Nehawu, together with the Public Servants’ Association – downing tools from midweek.. Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo
This week, strike season is set to hit the SA Revenue Service (Sars), with the biggest unions – Nehawu, together with the Public Servants’ Association – downing tools from midweek.. Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo

BUSINESS


Thousands of SA Revenue Service (Sars) workers belonging to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Public Servants Association (PSA) marched to National Treasury on Tuesday over a wage dispute. The workers want Treasury to fund their salary demand of a 12% increase across the board.

After offering workers a 0% increase – saying it was broke – Sars tabled a revised offer over the weekend to avert the strike that would bring its services to a standstill and could further cripple economic activity.

Sars was offering R500 million to workers, comprised of a 1.3% salary increase plus about R3 000 gratuity bonus over 12 months. PSA members rejected the offer, while Nehawu said it was not done with the consultation process.

The strike could affect the country’s ports of entry, including airports, if custom officials also down tools.

READ:  SARS floats new wage offer from savings, but 'cannot afford' union's demands

Meanwhile, the striking workers at Sibanye Stillwater took their fight for a living wage to the Union Buildings, following last week’s meeting between union representatives, which failed to resolve the strike. The workers went to the Union Buildings in hopes of getting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s attention and help.

Hundreds of workers who gathered in Pretoria said thus far they had been ignored by the president who “used to be one of them”.

Last week, Sibanye Stillwater offered striking members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the National Union of Mineworkers an R800 across the board salary increase and a R50 living-out allowance, plus a profit share of 5% over 3 years, while the workers have demanded a R1 000 increase.

READ: Second union announces plans to strike at SARS

The workers, who’ve been on strike for nearly three months, said they didn’t want a profit share that was linked to the company’s performance, as there were no guarantees that they would receive anything. They did not trust the company to keep its word.

A miner who hails from Botswana and has been employed at Sibanye Stillwater for 38 years said: “We want a set amount of R1 000 that’s written down and signed for, as we didn’t go to school and don’t understand in what context they would profit share, when it would be paid and how much that would be.

“We were told all the time that we were not making a profit, but [CEO Neal] Froneman gets hundreds of millions. We want a R1 000 increase over three years. We are here to ask the president to intervene. He promised early this month that he would help, but nothing so far.

If the mine closed, let it close because it is as big as it is because of our hard work. We dig gold in a big company that has a lot of money, but we still have people who are paid R9 000 per month before deductions. How are we supposed to live, feed and educate our children?


“We are prepared to go on for five or six months until we get what we want, because we were already hungry while we were working.”


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