COSATU has learned with shock that the compensation fund has issued a gazette for to all COID clients, to submit their claims or else the claims will be deemed repudiated and closed.
This stance by the compensation commissioner is outrageous and very cruel towards the injured workers. The fund indicates that this process to close claims is due to fraud at the fund. As COSATU, we strongly believe that there is absolutely no concrete reason for the closure.
The cut off date is an arbitrary one; there is no requirement in law for such a cut off to be set.
Workers who have been injured need compensation, compassion and assistance. They do not need to be abused by bureaucratic dictates from obscure and aloof Commissioners. The Compensation Fund is workers’ hard-earned insurance money; in effect, it is a deferred wage. The legal mandate of the Compensation Fund is to ensure that workers receive what is due to them. It is not to molest them with obnoxious and imperious cut off dates.
The Compensation Fund, like most other organs of the Department of Labour, is well known for being a centre of chaos, delays, missing forms, endless queues.
The only thing the CF Commissioner will achieve by imposing this nonsensical cut off date is to punish injured workers and their families in their moment of need.
What is needed from the CF Commissioner is a serious plan to:
· Address the chaos at the CF;
· Ensure employers pay what is due;
· That employers are in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (and its corresponding Mine Health and Safety Act in the mining sector);
· Deal with employers who break these progressive acts;
· Embark on a mass public education campaign to ensure that all workers and employers understand their rights and obligations; and
· Track and trace workers who are due compensation and to assist them in securing whatever paperwork is needed.
Government responsibility is to alleviate poverty in the country and the fund is moving away from that position. COSATU will fight this matter because the fund is very aware that a lot of workers have provided all the documents as requested and the same fund continues to take workers from pillar to post.
The fund is also aware that is it the employers’ responsibility to provide the information of the injured workers, unfortunately, these employers always disappear.
It is unfair to the injured workers and it is immoral for the fund to just close these cases without a comprehensive tracing of the employee.
The fund is hungry to receive a good report from the AGSA, but this cannot be at the expense of the employees.
We demand that the fund scrap this anti-worker cut off date with immediate effect, and develop a concrete tracing strategy for the workers, including partnering with business and labour to trace the lost information and documentation.
The CF Commissioner must refer this matter back to the CF Board. The CF Board must equally stop sleeping on the job. They must wake up to the mess that is happening under their watch. They must intervene to ensure the CF has a clear plan of action and serves the workers; it is legally obliged to.
COSATU does not have high hopes in the CF. We will be calling upon the Minister for Labour and Employment to intervene and bring this madness to an end. If that does not materialise, COSATU will not hesitate to demand the President’s intervention, to embark upon a mass action campaign, including if needs be to occupy the CF Commissioner’s office.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794