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

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter.
SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter.
Freddy Mavunda
  • The South African Revenue Service has offer to channel funds from its savings in 2021 towards staff wages.
  • However, the tax body said it could not afford demands from unions of a CPI plus 7% wage increase.
  • The Public Servants' Association said while picketing has started, labour would meet with SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter to discuss the offer.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) responded to union demands for a CPI plus 7% wage increase by saying that while it could not afford to pay such a wage hike, it was open to making funds available to its bargaining unit employees from its savings.

It did not specify the details of its proposed new offer. 

This comes after the Public Servants' Association (PSA) and the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) each declared a dispute at the tax body and served SARS with a notice of intention to strike.

SARS proposed that increases be made available through savings from 2021's revenue collections. Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced in his budget vote last week that SARS would get R3 billion to boost human resources capacity and implement ICT projects.

In a statement, SARS said that it could not afford to accede to the wage demands that PSA and Nehawu made during wage negotiations and that such an increase was not accounted for in National Treasury's allocations to the tax body.

"We had shared the leadership of the two trade unions that their current demands for a CPI plus 7% is simply not affordable.

"Like all government institutions, SARS is affected by the financial challenges facing the country, and as a result, in SARS's funding allocation from National Treasury, no provision was made for salary increases," the statement said.

READ | Second union announces plans to strike at SARS

In the statement, SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said even after the National Treasury made no provisions in its allocation to the tax body for wage increases, SARS did its "due diligence" to make funds available to employees represented in the bargaining unit.

"I am pleased that under difficult conditions we are able to provide some financial relief to our employees. I also remind our employees that we are inordinately privileged to have employment security at a time when so many are unemployed and financially destitute," said Kieswetter.

PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka said the union began picketing on Monday. He also said labour would meet with Kieswetter that evening to discuss the offer to convert savings into a form of financial support for staff, and how that would affect take-home pay.

If the deadlock is not broken, PSA is expected to commence with a full-blown strike on Wednesday.

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