The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the announcement of the long-delayed Covid-19 relief of R1.3 billion for the taxi sector.
06 December 2021
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the announcement of the long-delayed Covid-19 relief of R1.3 billion for the taxi sector with the government’s call for applications from registered taxi permit holders for relief. The needless delays of more than a year for this relief is testimony to bureaucrats who do not care about the impact of their decisions or inactions’ impact upon the lives of workers. Nonetheless, it is important that eligible permit holders now apply, and that government ensures that such payments are processed timeously. Every bit of relief into an economy battered by Covid-19 which has taken 90 000 lives and a recession that has taken 2.2 million jobs, must be welcomed.
COSATU welcomes the requirement for applicants to provide copies of the tax certificates. This is critical as taxpayers cannot subsidise those who refuse to pay taxes.
The Federation is however deeply disappointed that the Department of Transport has reneged upon the progressive agreement reached at Nedlac with Organised Labour and Social Partners, that applicants for relief for the taxi sector would also be required to provide their Unemployment Insurance Fund and Injury of Duty on Compensation Fund registration certificates. The taxi industry begged for money from the UIF in 2020, yet the overwhelming majority of its members are not registered with the UIF. The UIF can only be sustainable and in a position to provide solidarity if all parties contribute to it. The same principles apply to the Compensation Fund. Many taxi drivers are injured in the course of their work and are unable to claim for the Compensation Fund because their employers did not register them with it and pay their dues.
It was also agreed that in exchange for providing relief to the taxi sector, owners would be required to formalise their employment contracts with their drivers and other industry workers. This is critical to ensuring that the labour rights of these workers are respected, in particular the limits on the numbers of hours they can work per week, paid time off, sick leave, etc. Currently, many taxi owners treat their drivers and workers as little more than glorified slaves. These medieval conditions are one of the key causes for the sporadic violent outbursts that occur in this sector from time to time and take the lives of innocent workers.
The Department of Employment and Labour needs to intervene and develop a joint programme with the Department of Transport, the leadership of the taxi industry, and Organised Labour to formalise this sector and ensure it is brought into full compliance with all our labour laws.
Issued by COSATU
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