Sars workers belonging to unions Nehawu are protesting at the Sars Campus Alberton. The unions are demanding an 11,4 percent hike, while Sars is offering 7 percent (Pics: Thuli Mbatha/African News Agency)

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Revenue Service said several of its branches were closed on Thursday after workers went on strike across the country to press for higher wages.

Thousands of workers affiliated to the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) and the Public Servants Association (PSA) are demanding an 11.5 percent increase, while Sars is offering seven percent.

Sars said it had put necessary contingency measures in place to minimise the disruption to taxpayer services across its branches and ports of entry.

But its branches in Alberton, Bellville, Benoni, Bethlehem, Bloemfontein, Boksburg, Cape Town, Doringkloof, Durban, Edenvale, Giyani, Kimberley, Mitchells Plain, Mthatha, Pinetown, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Randburg, Randfontein, Richards Bay, Rissik Street, Roodepoort, Sibasa, Soweto Orlando East, Uitenhage, Vereeniging, and Witbank-Emalahleni were closed.

On Wednesday, Sars confirmed it had reached a deadlock in negotiations with unions over salary increases and improvements in conditions of service and benefits for bargaining unit employees, after months of negotiations which commenced in November 2018.

Sars workers have rejected mediator Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration's (CCMA) proposal of an eight percent increase across the board, among other agreements.

Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said workers would not back down on their demands. 

The strike could disrupt customs operations at national ports of entry and enable the flow of drugs and illicit goods.

Airports Company of South Africa spokesperson Nangomso Jacobs could not immediately confirm whether Sars officials at airports had been instructed not to join the strike as these are national key points.

African News Agency (ANA)