Stalemate at SARS, operations not yet at full capacity

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  • While one union has suspended its strike at the South African Revenue Service, another is still canvassing striking workers on what to do. 
  • While SARS says it is not yet at 100% capacity, all operations continue as normal for the tax body.
  • The unions are currently in talks with SARS.

As unions representing workers at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) resume talks on wages to end the deadlock, the position of the Public Servants' Association (PSA) and the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) appears to be softening. 

The two unions announced a full-blown national strike at SARS last month. But PSA has since suspended its strike last week pending talks with the employer, while Nehawu has referred to its membership around the country for a mandate to resume negotiations or continue striking.

Unions are demanding a CPI plus 7% increase in the wages at the negotiations, which SARS has repeatedly said it cannot afford. SARS even offered to channel an undisclosed amount in its savings from 2021 towards salaries in an offer to mollify unions. Still, unions rejected this, saying it would not amount to a meaningful salary increase. 

SARS spokesperson Siphithi Sibeko told Fin24 that while SARS is not at 100% capacity, all operations continue as normal for the tax body.

"We are continuing with our operation. The PSA went back to the bargaining chamber and both unions insisted on their demands and rejected our offer. Currently, there is a stalemate, but because the strike is suspended, some workers are back, and operations are continuing smoothly," said Sibeko.

READ | Public Servants' Association suspends strike at SARS

PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka said while the union suspended its strike, it will hold meetings with the employer to find a semblance of common ground and that labour was prepared to take its time in this regard.

"The strike itself was suspended last week in the anticipation of a meeting with the employer. We had one meeting with the employer on Friday and [will have] another meeting with the employer tomorrow," Maleka said.

"The Friday meeting did not have much progress," Maleka added.

Nehawu spokesperson Lwazi Nkolisi said: "There are no new developments or updates other than that we are continuing with our strike while talks between the union and SARS are unfolding."

Talks between labour and SARS are expected to continue on Wednesday.

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