Nehawu ‘unhappy’ with Sars deal but will sign agreement

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) says though it is not happy with the multi-term agreement offered to workers by the South African Revenue Service (Sars), it will sign the agreement.

The union said after extensive consultations, the majority of its provinces had given it the mandate to sign the agreement in a bid “to solicit unity” instead of dividing workers, as is the case now.

READ MORE: Sars staff to down tools as wage talks collapse

In a statement released on Monday, the union said it is “regrettable” that the Public Service Association [PSA] had signed a draft settlement agreement, calling the action “premature” as negotiations are still ongoing.

“We find it unflattering that the same union that was ready to fight until the bitter end for Sars workers folded precipitately while we still believed that the employer still had an opportunity to improve the offer presented on Sunday. Moreover, we want to dispel the myth that there is a majority union at Sars as it is a conscious distortion [and] cheap and desperate attempt [at a] narrative by the media that if PSA signs then the agreement enjoys majority support,” the Nehawu statement reads.

On Monday, the PSA announced that it had reached an agreement with Sars to end its strike at the tax authority.

According to a statement released on Monday afternoon by the PSA, the revenue collection agency agreed to an 8% salary increase from April and a projected increase of the consumer price index plus 2% in the following two years. PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks said the multi-term agreement included an increase in the long-service award amount, and the introduction of eight days’ prenatal and vaccination leave.

“Sars can under current circumstances ill-afford to be operating under capacity, as the country struggles to collect revenue, while [teetering] on the brink of possible credit-rate cuts.

The PSA is pleased that Sars, by reaching this agreement, acknowledges the importance of the work being rendered by its employees,” Fredericks said.

READ MORE: Sars crippled by Moyane loyalists

The PSA, along with Nehawu, collectively represents some under 10 000 of the tax agency’s 12 000-strong workforce. The PSA represents around 5 300 workers, while Nehawu represents some 4 400 workers.

The industrial action, which began on March 28 after the collapse of lengthy wage negotiations, was the first time in over a decade that the revenue agency experienced strike action. Nehawu’s initial demand of 15% was not successful, and was reduced to 11.4% despite Sars barely making any concessions, the union said.

On Monday, Sars reported revenue shortfalls for the 2018/19 year had reached R57.4-billion. This is an increase of R14.6-billion, on the existing shortfalls forecast in the February 2019 budget, which was expected to hit R42.8-billion.

Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.
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