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Staff to decide on Sars’ 3.9% salary increase offer after pay hike U-turn

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Sars Bellville offices. File picture: Henk Kruger/frican News Agency

Taxman’s employees also referred leave encashment dispute to the CCMA

Johannesburg – SA Revenue Service (Sars) employees are expected to make a decision next week on the 3.9% wage hike offer after the taxman made an about-turn following its unilateral pronouncement not to increase their salaries.

The taxman’s staff who are members of the Public Servants Association (PSA) have hauled the entity, its commissioner Edward Kieswetter and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to the North Gauteng High Court for refusing to implement a 6.2% pay hike that was due in April this year.

The union accuses Sars of failing to implement the final leg of the 3-year wage agreement signed in 2019.

According to the PSA, the salary increase dispute has been referred to the high court to enforce the final year of the wage agreement.

The matter is expected to be heard within the next four to six months.

In papers filed in the high court, the PSA opposed the matter being referred for mediation.

“The applicant (PSA) does so for the following reasons: The applicant has sought to come to agreement with the first and second respondents (Sars and Kieswetter) to implement the salary adjustments provided for in clause 4.1 of the substantive wage agreement (for the period 2019/20 to 2021/22),” the union told the court.

Sars and Kieswetter indicated that they were unable to implement salary adjustments as the entity does not have the necessary funds to do so and the PSA was of the opinion that mediation would not be fruitful.

In the midst of the salary dispute, Sars changed its stance not to increase its employees’ salaries this year despite an existing agreement to implement a 6.2% pay hike and offered them 3.9% instead.

The PSA has also referred a leave encashment dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, which is scheduled to be heard next month, after Sars also decided not to pay its employees’ leave encashment benefit for the 2021/22 financial year.

Sars is offering its employees a R1 500 once-off leave encashment payment which would leave staff out of pocket by between R35 000 and R180 000, depending on years of service left before retirement age and the number of leave days to be sold.

The taxman recently approached the PSA with a proposal to settle both disputes.

“In terms of the 2006 collective agreement and relevant policies, employees could cash in a maximum of six days of their unused leave days every year,” the union stated.

Sars is proposing to stop leave encashment entirely after paying all employees R1 500 once-off and this will mean that no employee can in the future sell any of their leave days, according to the proposal.

The PSA has warned its members that this was a clear indication that Sars’ current settlement offer for leave encashment would have a tremendous negative financial implication should it be removed as a benefit.

Sars employees are expected to give their union a mandate next week to decide on the two offers on the table.

“It is therefore crucial for members to understand the employer’s settlement offer before they cast their mandate,” the PSA cautioned.

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