SARS strike to go ahead on Thursday as unions threaten 'total shutdown'

Unions will down tools on Thursday, as no wage agreement has been reached between the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the revenue service. 

"We are dealing with an employer who is hell bent on negotiating on bad faith. As a result, we are proceeding with the strike tomorrow morning and all our members are ready to join the picket lines at SARS across the country, Deputy General Secretary December Mavuso said at a briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"Since a notice to strike was issued we have held three meetings, on Monday and twice on Tuesday. Our major gripe with these meetings is how SARS kept shifting the goal posts," Mavuso said.

"SARS will be facing a total shutdown if they fail to meet our demands."

Negotiations started as far back as November 2018. The parties have engaged over salary increases and improvements in conditions of service and benefits for union memebers of Nehawu and the Public Servants Association (PSA).

Nehawu and the PSA represents thousands of workers at SARS - with Nehawu saying it had more than 4000 members and the PSA more than 5000.

SARS has offered unions a 7% increase across the board, while unions are seeking an 11.4% increase across the board.

So far three offers have been rejected by unions, this includes the initial 7% increase offered by SARS, as well as a differentiated model. The differentiated model would see top performing SARS employees who are paid at the lower-end receive a 9.2% increase.

No employee would receive an increase of less than 5.2% in this model, according to SARS. 

A third proposal, which was put together by the CCMA is a multi-year agreement in which SARS would provide an 8% increase with effect of April 1 and would include a consumer inflation plus 1% increase in years 2 and 3 of the agreement, along with other benefits.

Nehawu said it would be open to the 8% increment offer if it is not linked to a multi-term agreement.

"If SARS says they can only afford 8%, for us to take this to our members it must be de-linked from a multi term agreement because it gives us an opportunity to negotiate in the next term," Mavuso said.

"The strike is indefinite, but of course if SARS came to us this evening – the ball is in their court.

"If they come back to us with an attractive offer, we will report to our members at the picket lines. We cannot call off the strike at night," Mavuso added.

SARS in the meantime has assured that steps are put in place to ensure service delivery on Thursday, when the strike is expected to take place. However, SARS has warned some delays can be expected.

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