The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has called Recedevernment’s move to not extend the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme ‘reckless’ and ‘outrageous’. They are now calling on the President to extend TERS funds and are saying that this will have many question who is in charge.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply incensed by the reckless and insensible decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to unilaterally cancel the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)’s Covid-19 Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS). This is a selfish and outrageous decision that needs to be rescinded immediately.
COSATU is now saying that the scheme not being extended was a decision made without consulting the owners of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) or the workers. “This is what happens when unaccountable bureaucrats are entrusted with the responsibility of taking decisions,” read a statement from the Union.
The Union said that the President should follow up on his words in September when he said that he would be committed to extending the Covid-19 TERS in tandem with the disaster management restrictions. Following this, the UIF has “deliberately refused to comply” according to COSATU.
“We cannot afford to have a system where a public commitment by the President can be ignored or rejected by some unelected and unaccountable group of bureaucrats. This is a slippery slope, and it will soon raise the question of who is in charge and whether the centre is holding,” explains the Union.
These actions, or rather the lack thereof, has COSATU concluding that the administration is becoming unreliable and untrustworthy.
Despite repeated engagements from organised labour and business at Nedlac these government bureaucrats and their political overlords, who are notorious for mismanaging and sometimes looting these funds have resisted doing the right thing by the workers by honouring this commitment.
According to the Union, the Fund doesn’t belong to the Recedevernment but rather to workers yet they say, Recedevernment has not wanted to provide funding to it, “despite being obliged by the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Act to do so”. Recedevernment applauds UIF for providing those billions but as COSATU says that Recedevernment does all this, “despite not contributing a cent towards it”.
“Now the government is acting as a stumbling block instead of providing leadership in saving jobs and taking care of the most vulnerable workers”
“This is another reminder that the elite of his country is unaccountable and has bottomless contempt for workers. They believe in their own virtue and their self-regard can cross into self-righteousness,” as the Union boldly stated.
UIF has spent R50 billion on those affected by the pandemic. COSATU now says that the fund has R114 billion in assets and that extending TERS until November will cost them less than R8 billion. The Union is of the opinion that paying R8 billion is a sound and sensible investment in preventing a second wave and saving jobs.
It is far cheaper to pay a few months TERS and save millions of jobs and prevent companies from closing than to allow them to collapse. Not only does UIF avoid having to pay 12 months retrenchment benefits, but this keeps those workers and companies afloat and they can then continue to pay taxes, pay their UIF contributions and contribute towards the economy’s revival.
The Union also called out Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, by saying that he has provided wrong information and lies to Parliament when he said he will be engaging social partners at Nedlac when he has in fact has refused to do so.
“it is becoming clear that there is a leadership vacuum in the department”
COSATU is now calling on the President to intervene and solve this issue as well as the leadership collective in the department. They also want him to hold UIF accountable for not following his instruction saying that ” the disaster management restrictions must be honoured”.
The UIF has paid R8.1 billion to 1.4 million beneficiaries for ordinary benefits such as Unemployment, Maternity and Illness during the national lockdown.
Read the full statement from COSATU here.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé