The South African Revenue Service (SARS) last night met with labour unions in an effort to resolve the salary increment impasse at the revenue collector.
In a statement this morning, SARS said the intervention was to avoid any adverse impact on the country’s revenue, which SARS delivers to the fiscus.
At this session, SARS spokesperson Sandile Memela said the revenue collector tabled a differentiated salary increase model for employees in the bargaining unit based on the principles of addressing salary anomalies and reducing the ever-widening salary gaps caused by across-the-board increases.
“This model could see top performing SARS employees, who are paid at the lower-end, receiving increases up to 9.2% (CPI plus 5.1%). In this model, no employee would receive an increase of less than 5.2% (CPI plus 1.1%),” he said.
This proposal was rejected by labour unions and they insisted on an across-the-board increase of 11.4%.
“Engagements continued yesterday, until late at senior leadership level between SARS and the unions’ leaders. Engagements centred on the CCMA Mediator’s proposal of 8 March 2019 of an 8% increase as a possible settlement to the dispute.
“SARS, considering all its financial constraints, tabled an offer to settle at 8%, conditional to it being a multi-term agreement for implementation on 1 April 2019. This offer to settle included agreement on an 8% increase in year 1, aligned to the CCMA proposal, with CPI plus 1% increases for year 2 and 3 of the agreement,” read the statement.
As a way of showing commitment, the revenue collector said the settlement offer also included SARS acceding to pre-natal leave, long service awards increase and the status quo on other leave demands. The family responsibility leave demand would then be deliberated at a task team level, together with other matters that were referred to the task team.
“The only remaining point of difference between SARS and organised labour was the term of agreement. Whilst organised labour was not inclined to a multi-term agreement, SARS explained that for it to have reprioritised its expenditure for an 8% increase, a multi-term agreement was essential to create a level of financial certainty for the organisation based on the fiscal framework of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), as well as the time needed to close on the savings that the organisation will need to make to afford the 8% increase,” Memela said.
A multi-term agreement, he added, would provide for stable employer/employee relations over the period, which would be conducive for SARS to focus on key improvements to take the organisation forward.
With organised labour rejecting the multi-term agreement, SARS said it was left with no option but to revert to its previous position of a 7% across-the-board increase at single term, based on its affordability and not compromising the sustainability of the organisation’s operations over the next three years.
“However, if organised labour consulted their members and they accept the offer of 8% across the board, and CPI plus 1% in subsequent years, the dispute will be resolved,” Memela said.
While SARS recognises the constitutional right of workers to strike, it is equally cognisance of the state’s obligation to ensure that it has adequate resources to provide citizens with access to services.
“It is therefore in the public interest that this dispute be resolved, given due regard to SARS’ crucial role in revenue collection. SARS has therefore [on Tuesday] applied to the CCMA for an intervention in terms of Section 150A of the Labour Relations Act for the Director of CCMA to intervene in an attempt to mediate the dispute,” said Memela.