SARS fails to implement last leg of wage agreement – NEHAWU

Union says collective agreement that is being discarded by revenue service came after a serious fight

NEHAWU statement on the non-implementation of salary increment for SARS workers

28 April 2021

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) notes with utter repulsion the decision of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) not to implement the last leg of the 2019/2020 wage agreement which was due on the 1st April 2021.

The decision by SARS to renege on the implementation of the last leg of the collective agreement is in direct violation of clause 8.1 of the collective agreement that in summary states that this agreement is binding on parties for 3 years (1st April 2019 – 31st March 2022). The collective agreement is prescriptive on the payment of the salary increments on clause 4.1 and it clearly states that the adjustment should be CPI plus 2.0% for workers in the bargaining unit.

The national union in its engagements with the employer submitted a detailed list of cost cutting measures that was to do away with the fruitless and wasteful expenditures at SARS. It is our submission to SARS that these savings should be used for the benefit of workers by addressing the historical salary disparities, development of employees by providing bursaries or study financial assistance including leave encashment and bonuses.

The collective agreement that is being discarded by SARS came after a serious fight by our members and workers who fought tooth and nail to ensure that the agreement was concluded. So the unilateral decision by the employer is an insult to workers who go beyond their call of duty to ensure that SARS is able to meet its target under difficult economic challenges and during the scourge of the deadly COVID-19 virus. This is the same SARS that has deemed it fit to employ 800 new staff members yet they are pleading poverty and refusing to give workers what is rightfully theirs including failing to create a conducive working environment for them.

The union convened its national bargaining forum that was attended by provincial coordinators on the 16th April 2021 and decided to get legal opinion on the matter and we will be meeting other unions to consolidate our approach and jointly fight SARS in its decision. The unity of workers is paramount now more than ever before as we witness the attack to collective bargaining across all sectors.

As NEHAWU, we blame our government for this mess our members and workers find themselves in. Other employers in other sectors are now taking a leaf out of the government's book by reneging on binding collective agreements. Our democratically elected government is leading the charge in reserving the gains of workers and an active participant in reducing them to a life of poverty. NEHAWU will not take this lying down and will continue in its efforts to force our government to fully implement PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018.

Issued by Khaya Xaba, National Spokesperson, NEHAWU, 29 April 2021