COSATU statement on the President Ramaphosa’s decision to move the country to COVID-19 Alert Lockdown Level 2

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Ramaphosa’s decision to move the country to COVID-19 Alert Lockdown Level 2 and the various updates in the fight against Covid-19. The Federation calls upon all South Africans to continue to abide by the various health and safety measures, in particular wearing masks, sanitising, social distancing etc.  These are vital to curbing the pandemic.

We applaud the progress on speeding up the vaccination campaign and the tireless efforts of all health care workers.  The procurement and delivery of vaccinations programme has shown a positive improvement. 

It is however deeply worrying that many people have failed to vaccinate.  All adults need to vaccinate because the vaccines have proven to be highly effective in minimising infections and saving lives.  It is critical that everyone vaccinates not only to protect themselves, but also their co-workers and families. 

It is only through achieving mass population immunity that the economy will be able to emerge safely, and jobs saved.  The economy cannot afford to continue absorbing periodic lockdowns, nor is there enough in the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to provide relief to workers.  COSATU and its Affiliates will be strengthening their campaign to mobilise all workers and their families to vaccinate.

The Federation welcomes the easing of some restrictions in the hope that this will provide relief for badly battered sectors of the economy and enable jobs to be saved and workers to be paid.  Whilst acknowledging the lifting of some restrictions on alcohol sales, it is critical consumers drink responsibly and do not force government to reinstate bans on the sale of liquor again.

The state of the UIF remains a matter of deep concern to millions of workers.  The continous delays in processing payments to thousands of desperate workers is unacceptable.  The Department of Employment and Labour needs to intervene and provide the UIF with the necessary assistance to unblock these delays and ensure it has the necessary capacity to dispense relief timeously. 

 Employers in affected sectors of the economy eligible for relief  under Level 4 and those affected by the violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, need to apply for UIF TERS relief for their employees.

The progress in processing the Covid-19 SRD R350 Grant is welcome.  We hope payments will be done electronically and that the endless queues at Post Offices will not be repeated. COSATU welcomes Parliament’s adoption of the three Gender Based Violence (GBV) Bills.  The President should now quickly sign them into law.  

However, they will only have the desired impact if the courts, police, and prosecuting authority are properly resourced and trained to implement them.  Government needs to embark on a mass education campaign to ensure that all South Africans are aware of the Bills’ provisions so that they can exercise their rights and that those who abuse women and children know the consequences of their cowardly actions.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911

 Fax: 011 339 5080

 Cell: 060 975 6794