COSATU statement on the allegations of employers stealing the UIF Covid-19 Relief Funds

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is deeply alarmed by allegations that some employers are stealing the money from the UIF Covid-19 Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS). These employers are receiving the money from UIF, but they are failing to pass it on to workers, as expected. This is nothing but naked corruption and these growing allegations of employers stealing workers’ UIF funds must be nipped in the bud. 

The Federation calls upon the President to issue an urgent proclamation for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to look into serious allegations of UIF Covid-19 TERS Funds being pocketed by some of these unscrupulous employers. 

Government is too soft on private sector corruption and the NPA is missing in action. The President promised that his administration will not tolerate corruption and opportunism during the Covid-19 lockdown and now we challenge him to prove that he was serious and not just offering workers empty words.

The UIF Covid-19 Relief Fund memorandum of understanding requires all employers who receive funds on behalf of workers to immediately pay the money to workers immediately. Furthermore, those employers are required to submit proof of payment to the UIF within seven (7) days. To date less than 1% of these employers have submitted these proofs of payment to the UIF. 

The UIF must be more hands-on and hold these employers to account. It must contact these errant employers and inform them that their failure to do so will see them being charged with theft and fraud and being handed over to the SIU. SARS must be engaged to deduct such funds from employers who refuse to comply. 

The UIF also needs to SMS workers when they pay their UIF Covid-19 Relief Funds to their employers and state how much those workers are meant to receive. 

COSATU welcomes the statement by BUSA that employers who steal from workers must be arrested. But BUSA needs to go beyond just issuing words of condemnation; it needs to take accountability for the unethical and corrupt conduct of its constituency.  

This is a reminder that South Africa is facing the scourge of corruption and most of it is in the private sector. We simply cannot afford to allow this looting of the workers’ hard-earned wages by these greedy employers to continue without consequences.

The President, Department of Employment and Labour, UIF, and law enforcement agencies must now intervene in this growing crisis before it gets out of hand. Workers’ patience is not infinite, and the government needs to act swiftly and decisively.

Issued by COSATU
 Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794