'Full-blown' national strike begins at SARS

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  • A strike at the SA Revenue Service (SARS) for higher wages started on Wednesday.
  • The Public Servants' Association said evening meetings to discuss a SARS offer yielded no progress.
  • SARS says the action is protected by picketing guidelines approved by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

The Public Servants' Association (PSA) and the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) will commence with their strike at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) on Wednesday morning.

This follows last-minute efforts by the tax body to avoid a strike by offering to channel its savings from last year towards salaries. SARS held evening meetings with labour earlier in the week to make this offer, but this proposal was evidently rebuffed.

While PSA and Nehawu put SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter on notice of their intention to strike earlier this month, unions reverted to picketing amid discussions on SARS's offer to channel savings toward salaries.

Labour is demanding a CPI plus 7% increase, but SARS has told unions that this is unaffordable. SARS maintained that the R3 billion boost to the tax authority from Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana's budget did not account for wage increases.

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

Nehawu spokesperson Lwazi Nkolisi confirmed to Fin24 that the strike would begin on Wednesday and that the union stands firm on its wage demand.

"We are commencing with [a] ... full-blown national strike as of [Wednesday] until the demands of members are acceded to by SARS," said Nkolisi.

PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka said the union opted to embark on industrial action because the discussions with SARS earlier in the week yielded no progress. 

SARS spokesperson Siphithi Sibeko said the industrial action is protected by picketing guidelines approved by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

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