The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the extension of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)’s Covid-19 Temporary Employment Relief Scheme until 15 August. This is will provide badly needed relief for millions of workers who have lost their wages and jobs due to the pandemic.
It is a victory for millions of workers and their families and represents a lifeline to the economy by injecting some money.
COSATU commends the leadership shown by Minister Thulas Nxesi and the management of the UIF and DEL. Under their watch, despite all the difficulties, the UIF has injected almost R40 billion into workers’ pockets, businesses, and the economy.
This is the only money that has been injected in the economy in a serious way because shamefully other government departments, banks, and investment funds, have failed to seriously inject new money into the economy to stave off the crisis.
To date, the UIF has dispersed over R34 billion Covid-19 TERS relief for the period April to June. An additional R4 billion in normal UIF has also been paid. This has benefited more than 7 million workers. It has meant those workers could buy food for their families and helped some companies to remain open and reduce retrenchments.
The UIF was never built for the shutdown of an entire economy and it is starting to take a massive strain. Many workers and employers have experienced painful delays in accessing relief due to them. Currently over 550 000 workers’ applications have not yet been paid due to various technical issues like incorrect bank account details. COSATU is working with the UIF and employers to deal with these matters.
Continuous complaints received from desperate workers about inhumane employers withholding both their salaries and their UIF payments are depressing and too many.
These offending employers must be charged and arrested. The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) must name and shame those employers and blacklist them. The UIF needs to begin auditing employers to ensure that workers receive their money.
Those employers who have not applied yet to the UIF need to do so urgently. This is a legal requirement under the Disaster Management Ministerial Directions. The window period to do so will not remain open indefinitely. Every bit of stimulus that can be injected will help save jobs and resuscitate the economy.
While we have been pushing for UIF to continue to provide relief to workers, we understand that it cannot carry the entire nation on its shoulders alone. The other departments in government, the banks and investment funds must be made to come to the party and provide relief for workers and the economy.
The UIF is workers’ hard-earned deferred wages, it does not belong to the government or the private sector. Workers have done their bit in propping up the economy and now the government and the private sector must do their bit too.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (COSATU National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 679