Association of civil servants suspends strike against SARS

  • The Association of Civil Servants has confirmed that it has suspended its nationwide strike.
  • The union will meet with the employer on Friday to get a response to the demands it has filed.
  • SARS said operations were proceeding as planned despite the strike.

The Public Servants’ Association (PSA) – which represents around half of South African Revenue Service (SARS) employees in the bargaining unit – has suspended its strike pending an answer from the employer to its demands.

SARS is facing a national strike after a stalemate with the PSA and the National Union of Education, Health and Allied Workers (Nehawu) over wage negotiations.

PSA spokesman Ruben Maleka told Fin24 on Wednesday that the union would give SARS until the end of the week to respond to its demands, as its members return to duty, for the time being.

“We are waiting for the employer to respond to our memorandum. We meet on Friday… It’s basically the same request,” Maleka said.

Picketing at SARS began in mid-May and the strike officially began last week as unions were unconvinced that the employer’s pledge to channel savings from 2021 into wages would represent an increase significant. SARS said it could not afford union demands of a CPI plus 7%.

SARS said operations were proceeding as planned despite the strike.

The development comes as a submission to parliament by the national treasury reaffirmed that any increase SARS receives from the Inland Revenue stipend must tighten the operations of the tax office, rather than going towards salary increases.

The Treasury reported underspending on key projects aimed at improving taxpayer satisfaction.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana told parliament during its vote on the budget last month that SARS would receive a R3 billion boost to help the organization build capacity for IT projects and the capacity of human resources, among others.

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In Parliament, the National Treasury said public comments from the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants raised concerns that SARS potentially has insufficient funds to meet its April 2022 deadline for implementing accounting practice generally. recognized (GRAP), and that it cannot successfully fulfill its mandate. .

“SAICA has seen an increase in taxpayer dissatisfaction with SARS services, as evidenced by the number of operational inquiries received from our members, as affirmed by the Office of the Tax Ombudsman, where the inquiries have gone from 5,904 in 2015 to 12,147 in 2021 and complaints from 2,134 in 2015 to 2,967 in 2021.

“An additional R1 billion has been allocated to SARS in the financial year 2022/23, which will be used to address the GRAP issue raised by SAICA. The National Treasury will continue to engage SARS on its challenges of funding in light of his important work..R4 million has been allocated to the GRAP project, but only R240,000 has been spent to date,” according to a submission from the National Treasury.

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No crowdfunding

During submission, the National Treasury also told the committee that grassroots civil society group had complained that the R350 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant had not been extended to a grant of Basic Income (BIG) since its introduction in 2020 to cushion the blow of the Covid-19 pandemic on low-income and indigent households.

“The budget allocation for the reinstatement of the R350 SRD grant in 2021/22 was sufficient for 9.4 million beneficiaries, and it was increased in 2022/23 to cover 10.5 million beneficiaries, an additional one million .

“A BIG is unaffordable in the current economic climate and would further crowd out spending on existing basic services, pensions and family allowances, health and education,” the document says.

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Andrew B. Reiter