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SARS 'hopeful' union will accept offer in bid to avert strike

Mar 22 2019 15:45
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

The South African Revenue Service told Fin24 on Friday that it remained hopeful that the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) would accept its wage offer in a bid to break the deadlock between them.

Nehawu served SARS with a letter on Wednesday notifying it of the union’s intention to go on strike. According to the letter of notice, the union will down tools on Thursday.

Nehawu says it has more than 4000 members at SARS. There are an estimated 12 000 staff members at SARS currently.

Nehawu's demands include a salary increase of 11.4% and an increase to long-service awards with a percentage equal to its salary increase.

The notice follows long-standing differences between the union and SARS over employment conditions and benefits.

This comes on the back of the Public Service Association also declaring a dispute with SARS in January 2019. The matter was later referred to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration.

SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela told Fin24 that the tax body remained committed to "resolving the impasse amicably to avoid any adverse impact to the country’s revenue which SARS delivers to the fiscus".

"Despite the CCMA certificate of non-resolution, SARS is hopeful that Organised Labour will reconsider the employer’s offer of 7% which amounts to CPI plus 3% based on the published inflation rate. This is a very generous offer, far above what public institutions and most other industries give," said Memela.

Memela said SARS had a responsibility to ensure its own financial well-being for the next three years. He said an increase above their current affordability would not only be unaffordable and unsustainable but would have a "ripple effect on the ability to continue functioning properly in the years to come". 

"Against this background, the employer intends to further institute cost containment measures. We have been trying everything within our power to reduce cost to enable us to operate within our budget. Taking into account the country’s dire economic challenge, we must all act prudently," Memela said.

Memela said SARS would request a meeting with organised labour early next week to find "an amicable solution to the dispute". He said SARS still believed the opportunity exists for the parties to resolve the matter.

nehawu  |  psa  |  sars  |  strike
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