Unions representing Sars workers vow to shut down all offices amid strike

National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) and the Public Services Association have downed tools and held a picket in the capital city on Wednesday.

FILE: Sars offices in Pretoria. Picture: City of Tshwane/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Unions representing workers at the South African Revenue Services (Sars) have vowed to shut down all the revenue service offices until their wage demands are met.

On Wednesday, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) and Public Services Association (PSA) downed tools and held a picket in the capital city.

Nehawu said a revised wage offer of 1.3% by Sars was still too little.

A memorandum of demands has been handed over to treasury.

Nehawu and PSA have indicated that they would not back down on its demands.

They say any wage increment offered below the current inflation rate of 5.9% was unacceptable.

Spokesperson Lwazi Nkolonzi said Sars did well in the previous financial year but couldn't say they were not in good financial standing to meet their salary increase demands.

“For them to come back with what they are saying is an insult. Bear in mind the economic hardships faced by the same workers that Sars is expecting them to contribute toward rendering excellent services to the nation.”

PSA’s Stephan Viljoen said they delivered their demands to treasury because they were the funders of Sars.

“If you compare last year’s performance by Sars to the previous years (2020/21), we have exceeded that by 25% and if you look at the target Sars was given last year, the revenue collected exceeded that by R17 billion.”

In a statement, the revenue service said it remained operational despite the strike. The revenue’s commissioner Edward Kieswetter said: “Sars recognises the constitutional right of workers to strike and express themselves within the provisions of the law. The important work of Sars has to continue and we will take whatever steps necessary balance the impact of the strike with our responsibility to discharge the important responsibility of providing important services to taxpayers and collecting all tax revenues due."

“This very revenue pays the salaries of government employees and provides the necessary resources to provide public goods and services. The work of Sars is transformative and enables government to build a capable that fosters sustainable economic growth and social development in the interest and well-being of all South Africans.”

The revenue service said the first day of the strike proceeded orderly without incident and disruption to operations was minimal. Kieswetter said they will, however, continue to monitor developments at their branches.