Strike season is set to hit the SA Revenue Service (Sars) this week, with the biggest unions – Nehawu, as well as the Civil Servants Association – downing tools from the middle of the week.. Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretto
Thousands of SA Revenue Service (Sars) workers from the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Public Servants Association (PSA) marched to the National Treasury on Tuesday over a pay dispute. Workers want the Treasury to fund their wage demand for a 12% increase across the board.
After offering workers a 0% raise – claiming he was broke – Sars tabled a revised offer over the weekend to avoid the strike that would cripple his services and could cripple economic activity further.
Sars was offering R500 million to the workers, comprising a 1.3% pay rise plus a gratuity bonus of around R3,000 over 12 months. PSA members rejected the offer, while Nehawu said it was not done with the consultation process.
The strike could affect the country’s ports of entry, including airports, if customs officers also lower the tools.
READ: SARS offers new wage offer from savings, but ‘can’t afford’ union demands
Meanwhile, Sibanye Stillwater strikers have taken their fight for a living wage to Union buildings, following last week’s meeting between union representatives which failed to resolve the strike . The workers went to the Union buildings in the hope of attracting the attention and help of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Hundreds of workers who have rallied in Pretoria have so far said they have been ignored by the president who “was one of them”.
Sibanye Stillwater last week offered striking members of the Miners’ Association and Construction Union and National Miners’ Union a block pay rise of R800 and R50 subsistence allowance, plus a to 5% profits over 3 years, while the workers demanded a raise of R1,000.
READ: Second union announces plans to strike over SARS
The workers, who have been on strike for nearly three months, said they did not want profit sharing linked to company performance because there was no guarantee they would receive anything. They didn’t trust the company to keep its word.
A miner from Botswana who has worked at Sibanye Stillwater for 38 years said: “We want a fixed amount of R1000 which is written down and signed because we have not been to school and we do not understand in what context they would split the profits, when they would be paid and how much it would cost.
“We were told all the time that we weren’t making a profit, but [CEO Neal] Froneman makes hundreds of millions. We want an increase of R1,000 over three years. We are here to ask the president to intervene. He promised earlier this month that he would help, but nothing so far.
If the mine has closed, let it close because it is as big as it is thanks to our hard work. We are digging gold in a big company that has a lot of money, but we still have people who are paid 9,000 rand per month before deductions. How are we supposed to live, feed and educate our children?
“We are ready to continue for five or six months until we get what we want, because we were already hungry while we were working.”