The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the Minister for Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi’s proclamation of a ministerial directive compelling all employers struggling to pay their employees to apply for relief funding from the UIF’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.
This UIF’s Covid-19 Relief Fund is meant to assist where workers are without their salaries and the employer does not have enough funds to cover workers’ salaries due to the compulsory shutdown.
COSATU has been pushing for this kind of firmness and leadership from the Department. This Ministerial directive deals with the issues that the federation has been demanding namely, compelling employers to claim from UIF on behalf of their employees. It also instructs them to credit back workers their leave days because they will be paid from the UIF’s Covid-19 Relief Fund. Employers are also instructed to proceed to pay workers from their own funds and then seek reimbursement from the UIF.
We appreciate the fact that the UIF was not built to manage an economic shutdown like the one we have now. As part of easing the pressure on the UIF systems, and to avoid a scenario where overwhelmed UIF systems crash; it was agreed during the Nedlac engagements between social partners (government, labour, and business) that employers must apply to the UIF for this salary relief on behalf of workers.
Many employers have, unfortunately, not done so. Thousands more have callously opted to retrench or to place workers on unpaid leave. Up to R40 billion has been put aside by the UIF to avoid these unnecessary retrenchments.
Employers must now apply for this relief all trade unions in the country should collectively work together to ensure that employers comply with this directive. Employers must apply online for these relief funds at www.uFiling.co.za. Guides are available at www.labour.gov.za. The UIF toll-free hotline is 0800 030 007.
If an employer has failed to apply, workers can apply as well. COSATU has noted reports of some technical glitches with the hotline and the online portal. Employers and workers are asked to be patient and keep trying until they are successful. The Federation is continuing to engage with the UIF and Department to ensure that they address these problems immediately.
COSATU expects the department and the entire government to ensure that this critical information reaches all employers as a matter of urgency. Otherwise many desperate workers will be left broke and hungry. We also want to see decisive action taken against those employers who fail to comply. The government needs to be legally audacious and tough against delinquent employers.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794