The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will present its submission in support of the Compensation of Injury on Duty Amendment Bill (COIDA Bill) to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee: Employment and Labour today at 14:00 pm (Thursday 22 April 2021).
The Federation welcomes the progressive provisions of the COIDA Bill. It is long overdue and will extend cover and relief to millions of workers, in particular women. Our support is based upon the following critical interventions included in the COIDA Bill:
· Domestic workers will now be covered, benefiting almost a million largely women workers who had been unconstitutionally excluded.
· An expanded definition of workers’ dependents and beneficiaries to include their spouse(s), children, siblings, parents, and grandparents, thus reflecting South Africa’s cultural norms.
· Diseases and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from the workplace will now be included, providing relief for millions of workers in the mining, security and other sectors, and women.
· Introducing a no-fault rule, to replace practises in the past that have been abused in the past to deny relief to workers.
· Providing for stiff penalties for non-compliant employers.
· Providing incentives for compliant employers.
· Empowering labour inspectors to ensure compliance by employers.
· Allowing courts to place caps on the exorbitant fees claimed by lawyers.
· Extending the time frame for submitting claims from 1 to 3 years; and
· Clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of employers, contractors and sub-contractors; thus, protecting millions of workers who otherwise fall through the cracks.
Whilst COSATU welcomes the progressive thrust of the Bill, we also feel it needs to be further strengthened to:
· Uplift rehabilitation from optional to a right, this is critical to prevent employers retrenching injured workers when they should be ensuring their rehabilitation and return to work; and
· Setting clear oversight mechanisms for insurance and compensation funds, e.g. that workers constitute 50% of their boards, they are held to account by the Minister and clear appeal mechanisms exist for workers denied their claims.
COSATU trusts that Parliament will defend the progressive clauses of this Bill and further strengthen it. Parliament equally needs to move with speed to pass it. Government must ensure that it is ready for implementation by next year. Workers cannot afford any further delays, not when their lives and livelihoods are at stake from recalcitrant employers who still believe that workers are their glorified slaves.
Issued by COSATU.
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator- Cell: 082 785 0687