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Last updated: 24 May 2019

FAWU seeks engagement with SARS after lack of consultation with stake holders over illicit cigarette trade

24 May 2019

The Food and Allied Workers` Union( F.A.W.U.) notes, with appreciation, that the new leadership of SARS has finally taken a step in the right direction with regard to the fight against the illicit tobacco trade. This follows FAWU`s demands over the last two years, that the government and in particular, SARS, drastically step up enforcement actions against the illicit trade in cigarettes.

FAWU is however, extremely concerned by the seemingly rushed process followed by SARS in terms of releasing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to provide a track and trace system for cigarettes without any engagement with affected role players. We have been quite vocal about the impact of illicit trade on jobs and about it posing a threat to the broader economy. We have also raised our concern over the lack of engagement with the relevant role players about the different ways in which the proposed track and trace system will affect jobs in the system.

SARS must consult with all those who will be implementing it such as retailers, wholesalers and tobacco manufacturers, along with unions and farmers in the tobacco value chain if such a system has hopes to succeed in fighting illicit trade.

At this stage, FAWU already faces the loss of about 300 members in the tobacco industry due to government`s failure to heed calls from the union as well as those from tobacco manufacturers and farmers that they should improve policing of tobacco products.

While FAWU appreciates the urgency of the matter, the quality of the engagement process between role players itself should not be undermined, as any outcome will remain flawed if the affected interest groups were not party to the process.

FAWU is therefore concerned that the government, in this instance, does not fully regard the livelihood of so many South Africans by rushing a process which will require the buy-in of all affected stakeholders.

FAWU therefore calls on SARS to withdraw the RFP in its current form and embark on thorough consultations with all affected stakeholders. FAWU seeks an urgent meeting with the Commissioner of SARS, Edward Kieswetter, to raise these and other objections to the process and to engage on how the process should be handled collectively henceforth.

For more information kindly contact the Deputy General Secretary, Mayoyo Mngomezulu on 082 440 4039 or Gauteng Provincial Secretary, Vuka Chonco on 082 499 5854.

Released by FAWU Media Liaison Officer, Dominique Martin- 082 498 5631