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NEHAWU plans to embark on a strike at SARS amid deadlocked wage negotiations

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THE National Education, Health, and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) said on Tuesday that plans are afoot to disrupt operations at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) amid deadlocked wage negotiations.

The health workers’ union is demanding salaries to be adjusted based on the October 2021 CPI plus 7% across the board effective April this year.

NEHAWU held a media briefing on Tuesday where General Secretary Zola Sapetha confirmed the union would hold lunchtime pickets at the start of next week. 

Saphetha said NEHAWU has served SARS with a notice of intention to strike after wage negotiations, which have been ongoing since January this year, deadlocked at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

“The union declared the dispute after it was clear that the employer was not responding to our wage demands. Instead, the employer has been unwavering that the institution doesn’t have money due to National Treasury austerity measures,” Saphetha said.

NEHAWU demands an 11.5% wage increase while the Public Servants’ Association (PSA) – SARS’ majority union – demanded a consumer price index (CPI)-plus 7% increase across the board. However, SARS tabled a final wage offer of a zero-percent increase.

“The dispute remained unresolved as the employer continued with the non-response to our core demands, but only proposing to establish some task team which we rejected,” Saphetha said.

He said the union referred the dispute to the CCMA and conciliation was set down for 31 March 2022.

“The employer formally submitted a zero-percent increase, even though they had confirmed receiving the allocated budget, which they sought from National Treasury. After the vigorous engagement, unfortunately, we did not agree. Thereby a deadlock was reached and a certificate was issued,” said Sapetha.

The union believes the tax authority’s refusal to come to the table is informed by government’s bid to freeze public sector wage increases.  

NEHAWU is the second union to announce plans to strike after the PSA also registered its discontent.

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