SARS strike to resume from Tuesday as unions reject wage offer

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The South African Revenue Service.
The South African Revenue Service.

The Public Servants Association (PSA) and the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) will resume their strike at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) on Tuesday after wage negotiations with the tax body broke down again.

Spokesperson for the PSA Reuben Maleka said wildcat strikes at Eskom had plunged South Africa into Stage 6 load shedding and yet workers there still secured a 7% wage increase across the board. This indicated a gap between what the state was looking for and what was expected from unions at wage negotiations, Maleka said. 

SARS managed to call a halt to unions downing tools in May when it offered to channel funds from its savings in 2021 towards staff salaries, but it maintained that it could not afford to accede to the unions' demands for a CPI plus 7% increase.

Now, the unions have rejected a proposed wage increase of 1.39%.

Earlier in the year, the tax agency had said the impact of the previous industrial action was minimal. But tax season started at the beginning of July, and many South Africans will be looking to get their tax returns in order in the coming months. 

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

Maleka said the PSA and Nehawu would strike together for higher wages on Tuesday.

'Indefinite' strike

"Tomorrow we begin organising at SARS for indefinite strike action. We are together with Nehawu on this. We are still stuck at 1.39% and it has been rejected. We believe that the only thing that will unlock the matter of negotiations is a strike," said Maleka.

Maleka said a dispute had also been formally lodged at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council.

"The strike that was suspended to continue with negotiations earlier this year resumes now. We have a mandate from membership who have rejected this offer, so the strike action that begins tomorrow is accounted for," Maleka said.

READ | Second union announces plans to strike at SARS

Maleka said unions were reasonable during the wage walks in the past two months. He said the offer to channel SARS savings from 2021 towards salaries would add up to an increase that workers did not accept.

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