UPDATE: Labour court bars unions from picketing at SARS branches during strike

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The Labour Court of South Africa in Johannesburg has barred workers represented by the Public Service Association and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union from picketing at all except two of the South African Revenue Service’s branches.

The order, which SARS applied for, relates to the strike which Nehawu kicked off on Thursday, after meetings to break the deadlock over union demands failed. Union demands include demands salary increases, recognition of improved qualifications, long service rewards and bonuses.

A Labour Court order from Thursday, which Fin24 has seen, said: "the respondents (PSA, Nehawu and their members at SARS) are to refrain from staging any picket during the duration of the protected strike action that commenced on 28 March 2019 at any place from where the applicants (SARS) conducts its business and services thant at 299 Bronkhorst Street, Pretoria and 28 St Austell Street, Alberton".

SARS told Fin24 that it encouraged tax payers affected by the closure of 33 of its branches to use the tax body’s website to handle their tax affairs as the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union strike rages on.

SARS announced on Thursday morning that it had closed 11 of its branches as a result of strike action. Several hours later, it announced that it would close 19 more - meaning that a total of 30 branches have now been closed.

SARS executive for remuneration and benefits Takalani Musekwa, however, said that 33 branches had in fact been closed. He said individuals who still need to finalise payments to the revenue service but cannot access an open branch, should send their documentation to SARS electronically.

Musekwa said SARS had approached the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration to assemble an advisory panel which SARS. Nehawu would can then approach the panel to make their case.

"The panel will make a determination and ruling that we will either accept or reject. We would need organised labour to sign up for the process to begin within a week after our application is formally submitted to the CCMA," Musekwa said.

SARS branches closed as a result of the strike are:

  • Alberton
  • Benoni
  • Bethlehem
  • Bloemfontein
  • Boksburg
  • Cape Town
  • Doringkloof
  • Durban
  • Edenvale
  • Giyani
  • Kimberley
  • Krugersdorp
  • Mitchells Plain
  • Mthatha
  • Nelspruit-Mbombela
  • Nigel
  • Paarl
  • Pinetown
  • Polokwane
  • Port Elizabeth
  • Randburg
  • Randfontein
  • Richards Bay
  • Rissik Street
  • Roodepoort
  • Sibasa
  • Soweto
  • Orlando East
  • Soweto Dube
  • Uitenhage
  • Umhlanga Ridge
  • Vereeniging
  • Witbank-Emalahleni

Nehawu’s demands a salary increase of 11,4%, recognition of improved qualifications in the form of 1% increase and a 10% bonus. SARS has offered unions a 7% increase across the board.

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

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