Home South African Workers take on Sars in court over non-payment of salary increases

Workers take on Sars in court over non-payment of salary increases

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Taxman blames the National Treasury for failing to implement wage hike agreement

Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg – The SA Revenue Service (Sars), its commissioner Edward Kieswetter and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni are facing legal action by the taxman’s employees for failing to increase their salaries this year.

Fed-up Sars employees, through their union, the Public Servants Association (PSA), have hauled the entity, its political and administrative bosses to the North Gauteng High Court to enforce the three-year salary agreement signed in 2019.

The move followed Sars’ decision not to increase its employees’ salaries in the 2021/22 financial year despite having implemented the agreement in 2019/20 and 2020/21, and paying its staff an 8% increase and the consumer price index (CPI) plus 2%, in both years respectively.

In terms of the agreement, the taxman’s employees were expected to receive wage hikes of the CPI plus 2% from April this year.

Last week, Statistics South Africa announced that annual CPI was 4.9% in June.

Acting PSA general manager Leon Gilbert has told the high court in papers filed earlier this month that Kieswetter informed the union and Cosatu affiliate, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, in March that Sars would not implement the final year of the agreement.

Gilbert said Kieswetter also indicated to labour that the entity had some money available and that leave encashment, bursaries and bonus payments needed to be funded by about R290 million as well as salary increases.

Sars told its employees in April that it would not be increasing their salaries because it did not receive the required budget allocation from the National Treasury.

It also blamed the ongoing litigation between the government and public servants over last year’s failure by the state to implement the last leg of the wage agreement signed in 2018.

The dispute between the government and its employees will be heard at the Constitutional Court next month.

”The PSA has been involved in a collective bargaining relationship with Sars since Sars’ inception. This is the first time that a collective bargaining agreement has not been implemented due to a failure by the National Treasury to allocate the necessary financing,” complained Gilbert.

He said Sars’ annual budget must have made a provision for the 2021/22 wage increases.

“The National Treasury has no legal basis to withhold the required allocation from Sars,” reads Gilbert’s founding affidavit.

According to Gilbert, the wage agreement amended the individual contracts of employment of the PSA’s members and Sars’ failure to implement the increase for the financial year 2021/22 amounts to a breach of these contracts.

The union wants the wage agreement declared valid and binding by the high court and Sars ordered to implement the salary adjustments for the 2021/22 financial year.

It also wants the court to declare that Sars’ failure to implement the salary adjustments provided for in the substantive wage agreement,for the period 2021 to 2022 is in breach of the contracts of employment of its members.

In addition, the PSA wants Mboweni to be directed by the court to make the necessary allocation of funds to Sars to enable it to implement the salary adjustments provided for in the agreement.

The union obtained legal opinion after Sars failed to implement the salary increases and was told the matter can be successfully challenged.

It is now awaiting the high court to issue directives on the process to be followed and a date for the matter to be heard.

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Political Bureau

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