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SARS strike suspended as unions give talks a chance

The South Revenue Service (SARS) has welcomed the decision by labour unions to suspend their strike and report for duty as the wage negotiations process continues.

SARS said in a statement on Friday that the Public Servants Association (PSA) suspended its industrial action first and the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) suspended its strike on Monday.

“In light of this announcement by the two unions, striking employees are back at work and SARS operations, including trade facilitation at our borders, is continuing as usual.”

ALSO READ: Sars mum on Nehawu strike after four months deadlock, experts predict wide ramifications

“The suspension of the industrial action affords all parties the opportunity to work towards progressing the negotiations and related discussions towards settling the dispute,” Sars said

The revenue service says follow-up discussions, as well as the National Bargaining process will be scheduled soon to continue the engagements.

The strike action caused disruptions at customs offices and branches around the country.

At the height of the action, as many as 18 branches around the country were closed during the day, with Sars urging taxpayers to use its online services instead of visiting branches.

Sars at the time said it had put contingency measures in place to ensure uninterrupted customs services, and the protection of infrastructure, officers, and clients.

At the core of the standoff between labour and Sars are what Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha described as “substantive demands” tabled before commissioner Edward Kieswetter.

These included:

  • Adjustment of salaries, using last October’s consumer price index of 4.5% and 7%, across the board for employees within the bargaining unit;
  • A full, equal medical aid and housing allowance for all employees;
  • Introduction of Covid pandemic leave of 10 working days per annum;
  • A R2 000 gift (token of appreciation) to be extended to employees aged 60 to 65 years; and
  • Pay progression – an upwards of 1.5% annual adjustment on the applicable pay band where the employee has met the required performance standard.

ALSO READ: SARS imposes heavier penalties on non-compliant SA taxpayers

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