The South African Revenue Service (SARS) says that it has engaged unions over the current wage dispute, and has presented a counter-offer to the demand of a 13% wage hike.
The tax service said that, like all government institutions, it is affected by the financial challenges facing the country, and as a result, its funding allocation from National Treasury for the year has made no provision for salary hikes.
It met with union leaders this weekend to communicate this reality.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) have made demands for a CPI +7% wage increase. SARS has until now maintained its position of a 0% change.
SARS said that the demand from unions “is simply not affordable”. However, it now says that it has dipped into its savings from the last year to draw up a counteroffer.
“Through its own diligence in managing costs, and other initiatives, SARS is able to make some funds available towards Bargaining Unit employees,” it said. “These funds are from some savings from last year (2021/22) as well as projected savings from this current year (2022/23) which has been approved towards people costs.”
The revenue service held meetings with the unions over the weekend in an attempt to resolve the dispute. The offer is now with unions, who will take the offer to their members to obtain a mandate, after which engagements will continue.
“SARS has further committed to continue discussions on a number of non-monetary items shared between the parties, to review and improve the overall employee value proposition. This process already commenced around the middle of last year,” it said.
SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter told employees that they should be mindful that “we are inordinately privileged to have employment security at a time when so many are unemployed and financially destitute”.
The PSA gave notice of its intent to strike on 12 May 2022. Until SARS’ latest concession, unions were set to strike this week.
The union said that workers have had to deal with years of no increases, while the cost of living has continued to escalate. It said that SARS’ claims of having no money did not align with the revenue service banking R16 billion more in revenue than initially estimated in the last year.
“Life has not been easy for workers owing to increasing food, electricity, and fuel prices. The South African Reserve Bank also recently increased the repo rate by 50 basis points, the largest hike since 2016,” it said.
“Strike action is the only option to force the employer to come to the table, otherwise employees will be unable to afford anything.”
Major strikes ahead for South Africa – including SARS
Source: Business Tech