Strike forces SARS to close 18 branches

Image supplied
  • Strike action by the Public Servants’ Association and the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union have forced the SA Revenue Service to close 18 branches. 
  • Unions are demanding a 7% increase in wages.
  • The unions rejected the latest offer from SARS and opted to resume their strike on Tuesday.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced on Tuesday that its operations have been affected by the industrial action from unions, forcing the tax body to close 18 branches in seven provinces around the country.

This comes at a sensitive time for SARS operations, as tax season started at the beginning of July.

The Public Servants’ Association (PSA) and the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) announced on Monday that they would be resuming their strike at SARS after suspending their industrial action for two months during wage negotiations.

Unions are demanding a 7% increase in wages.

SARS has floated the idea of channelling its savings from 2021 towards wages. Unions said this would only add up to a 1.39% increase and rejected the offer.

But the tax agency says it cannot budget more than R70 million for baseline increases. “SARS has communicated that it does not decide on its own funding, but is dependent on an annual allocation made through a process managed by National Treasury. The demand of labour of CPI plus 7% is simply unaffordable until the SARS receives further funding,” it said.

It said it was “empathetic” to employees’ financial position but added that “no work, no pay” would apply to striking workers.

READ | SARS strike to resume from Tuesday as unions reject wage offer

In a statement, SARS said it was forced to close multiple branches, including five in Gauteng, three in KwaZulu-Natal, four in the Western Cape, three in the Eastern Cape, and one each in Mpumalanga, the Free State and the Northern Cape.

It encouraged taxpayers filing tax returns to make use of its digital services, including e-filing.

“SARS apologises for any inconvenience caused but due to industrial action taking place across SARS, we are experiencing delays in servicing our taxpayers. Please continue to make use of our digital services during this time,” the statement read.

PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka claimed that the strike action has “fully shut down” border gates and SARS branch offices.

“The employer must listen and provide a better offer,” said Maleka.

Nehawu spokesperson Lwazi Nkolisi said the strike action at SARS kicked off “quite well” with members coming out in numbers at demonstrations across various SARS offices.

“We will be having demonstrations through picketing in offices of SARS and we will not be rendering any services until the employer offers something tangible to our members and workers at SARS,” said Nkolisi.

READ | SARS floats new wage offer from savings, but ‘cannot afford’ union’s demands

These branches have been closed due to the strike:

  • Edenvale
  • Benoni
  • Randfontein
  • Springs
  • Boksburg
  • Richards Bay
  • Pietermaritzburg
  • Durban

Cape Town

  • Mitchells Plain
  • Paarl
  • Beaufort West
  • Mbombela
  • Umtata
  • Uitenhage
  • East London

Free State