25 May 2022 – The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has noted that organized labour has opted to embark on an industrial action despite concerted efforts by SARS to avert the strike. SARS believes that its offer, to which it has received no response, is the best under the prevailing socio-economic challenges facing the country. SARS is also limited by the resources available to it from the funding grant.
SARS Commissioner Mr. Edward Kieswetter said, “I understand and empathise with the financial challenges faced by our own employees at SARS, as well as all employees country wide. In fact, all South Africans, especially millions who are unemployed, suffer the impact of the current economic climate. SARS is a microcosm of the broader society and the sentiment of discontent is understandable, especially when they have a sense that the current situation is unlikely to change in the short term. Employees do not willingly withhold their labour because that in itself has a financial impact on them under already tough times. One has to understand though, that when workers feel frustrated they feel that by going on strike is the last resort for them to be heard.”
The Commissioner continues: “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.”
SARS wishes to report that the first day of the strike proceeded orderly, without incident, and thank employees for exercising their rights, whilst respecting the rights of others and observing the law. Due to the wide range of on line services, disruption to the operations was minimal. Over the next few days, we will continue to monitor developments at our branch offices. Our website will continually be updated to advise the public on how to engage with SARS to fulfil their required obligations.
Taxpayers are encouraged to avoid coming to a SARS office.
Customs operations at ports of entry, especially borders, have been without major interruptions. All Customs border posts are operational with the contingencies in place mitigating the impact of the industrial action. SARS Customs will continue to rely on the support of other Government agencies across all border posts, especially from the South African Police to ensure that there is continued operation.
SARS has explained to employees that the principle of “no work, no pay” applies. It therefore urges union leadership to give a formal response to its latest offer in order to settle this labour matter, which is to no one’s benefit. “I call on the leadership of labour”, continues Commissioner Kieswetter, “to consider our proposal. I assure you that it is the best we can do under the current funding constraints. SARS simply do not have the resources to meet the labour demand of CPI plus 7%. I understand that our offer is not what our employees want, but it holds the real possibility of resolving the current industrial action at a time where employees in the entire public service are affected”
He concluded, “We realise that over the past few years’ remuneration and benefits has not kept up with inflation. In a country that is faced with high unemployment and other socio-economic challenges, SARS employees already have security of tenure, as well as market related salaries and benefits. This offer, whilst not addressing the demands of employees, will provide additional relief to minimise the impact of the current economic conditions. The doors of negotiations remain open and we are ready to work with our colleagues in labour to look at ways to improve the overall value proposition to our employees.”
SARS appeals to labour to remain peaceful in their protest and to respect picketing rules as specified in the CCMA Picketing Rules issued.
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