COSATU welcomes the announced R500 billion incentive and relief package to stabilize the economy and give relief to the poor

COSATU welcomes the President’s announcement of a R500 billion incentive and relief package to stabilize the economy and save jobs during this lockdown and as part of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time, where we are struggling because of shrinking resources, this drastic effort by the government is welcomed and laudable.

Unemployment Insurance Fund: The R40 billion that has been put aside to assist workers who have been retrenched or put on unpaid leave is a commendable intervention, but it is unacceptable that less than 2% of these funds have reached workers. We need more decisive action to ensure that the UIF systems work and deliver on time.

The government must equally use the full force of the Disaster Management Regulations to ensure that employers apply for the UIF relief funds on behalf of workers. We also welcome the R100 billion amount allocated to save jobs. Further announcements to increase income guarantee to informal workers are welcomes and must be used as an instrument to formalize the informal economy.

COSATU hopes that the issue of nonpayment of salary increases for public servants will be resolved at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC). These workers deserve better, especially now that they are carrying the nation on their backs. We also would like to see government working with the GEPF to mobilise some of the worker’s retirement savings to fund the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS). This will go a long way to helping the hundreds of thousands of workers with no access to housing.

Social Grants: The decision of social grants adjustments is welcomed because social grants are currently the only income stream to millions of families now.  The topping up of social grants provides the fastest poverty relief measure for over 18 million recipients.

A R350 income grant for the unemployed will go a long way in saving the unemployed from unnecessary hardships. This is in line with COSATU’s long standing call to increase the social security net to unemployed individuals between the ages 18-59 through the Basic Income Grant (BIG).

Health: We are happy with the allocation of R20 billion to the fight against Covid-19. The allocation must be used to enhance health systems and facilities as the building blocks towards the implementation of the National Health Insurance. To date approximately 120 000 persons have been tested.  This is woefully inadequate. The government must ensure that over the next two weeks measures are put into place to test all workers at the places of work starting with workers currently on duty.

Measures need to be put in place to ensure all transport, workplaces and educational institutions are sanitized and kept safe for workers and learners now and post-shutdown. This includes the urgent provision of PPEs for essential workers.

Economic Measures:

We welcome the commitment to infrastructure spending going forward.

 We agree and support the principle of the gradual reopening of the economy, as long as proper protocols are developed to keep the workers safe from the virus. Workers and employers must begin a process of consultation in the bargaining councils to conduct risk assessments in the sector and adapt workplaces.

Big corporations need to free their own resources and come to the party.  Big Business needs to match the amount that the government has placed on the table. The banks need to do more than what they have done so far. Nothing less than a R1 trillion stimulus plan will be sufficient to turn our already bleeding economy around and save workers from the pain of skyrocketing unemployment levels.

What we also want to see, going forward, is that every cent goes to serving its intended purpose. Therefore, corruption of any kind must not be tolerated. The ANC led government must lead decisively to root out all forms of corruption that might rear its ugly head as we endeavor to raise funds to fight the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 virus.

Issued by COSATU
 Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
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