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Sars braces for strike over pay

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The South African Revenue Service (Sars) said on Wednesday workers had rejected its latest wage proposal, insisting on an across-the-board increase of 11.4 percent, and it could therefore not disregard a strike on Thursday.

African News Agency reports: Sars said over the weekend it had reached a deadlock in negotiations with the Public Servants Association (PSA) and National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) over salary increases and improvements in conditions of service and benefits after months of negotiations which began last November.

It said negotiations had continued despite unions referring a dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in February.

“Sars acknowledged the CCMA certificate of non-resolution issued on 19th March 2019, together with the rules for picketing and that both PSA and Nehawu had provided Sars with an official notice of their intention to commence industrial action tomorrow, Thursday the 28th March,” it said on Wednesday.

The deadlock reached at the CCMA was with Sars offering a seven percent increase.

“Sars can only negotiate within its financial affordability which is influenced by amongst other factors the economic growth, resultant revenue collection and its reduced financial grant allocation from the National Treasury,” the tax collector said.

It said on Monday it had tabled a differentiated salary increase model for employees which could see top performing employees paid at the lower end receiving increases up to 9.2 percent. In this model, no employee would receive an increase of less than 5.2 percent.

“This proposal was unfortunately still rejected by organised labour and they insisted on an across-the-board increase of 11.4 percent,” it said.

“Engagements continued yesterday (Tuesday) until late at senior leadership level between Sars and the unions’ leaders. Engagements centred on the CCMA mediator’s proposal of 8 March 2019 of an eight percent increase as a possible settlement to the dispute.”

“Sars has done everything in its power and affordability level to resolve the dispute and avert strike action,” it said. “However, with organised labour’s rejection of Sars’ final settlement offer, Sars cannot disregard that strike action may continue on Thursday.”

It said it had put necessary contingency measures in place to ensure minimal disruption to taxpayer services across all its branches and ports of entries in the event PSA and Nehawu proceeded with the industrial action.