The South African Revenue Service (SARS) have announced that 23 of its offices will be reopened. While the reopening of the offices will help SARS assist more customers during a busy tax season, the revenue service said 17 branches remain closed.
The closures came as a result of an ongoing wage increase dispute between SARS and worker unions. SARS have offered an across-the-board increase of 1.5% for permanent employees. This increase will also be backdated to 1 April 2022.
SARS added that their offer is on the condition that if the broader public sector negotiations are resolved at an increase of higher than the 1.5%, National Treasury will accordingly make additional funding available towards the settlement agreement. SARS will be guided by this and adjust its offer to its employees to be on equal terms.
This offer is being considered by unions and has resulted in some workers returning to work. However, unions are reluctant to accept this offer as it is significantly less than their demand of a 12% increase.
Public Servants Association Assistant General Manager, Reuben Maleka says the 1.5% increase offer from SARS will not be accepted. They added that they will be engaging with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to ensure that they respect the law when pickets continue.
Maleka says that unions are not rigid when it comes to a 12% increase. They are willing to make an agreement with SARS within a settlement range, however, this can only be achieved when SARS provides unions with a serious offer.
“One would consider that when you consider an increase in terms of adjustment in this current financial year, you must factor many other factors such as petrol, affordability, transport, medical aid, all those influence the ranges which were going to settle” explained the general manager.
Maleka warns that public service workers like teachers and police officers could join SARS workers soon on the streets if their wage negotiations with the state do not progress fruitfully. Government backed out of a multi year agreement in 2020 which saw unions demand a 10% increase in wages for public service workers.