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Payment of UIF funds to laid-off workers must be speeded up - Cosatu

19 April 2020 10:38 AM
Tags:
SA Economy
Nedlac
Unemployment
Job losses
Unemployment Insurance Fund UIF
COVID-19

Cosatu's Matthew Parks reports back after a Nedlac meeting chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Government, business and labour were represented at a virtual meeting on Friday of the The National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In view of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, representatives heard that 3-million jobs could be at risk in South Africa.

Support for the country's most vulnerable is crucial and a specific concern raised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is the logistics of getting that support to them.

RELATED: Dial 012 337 1997 for info on UIF and other labour issues related to Covid-19

Africa Melane gets more detail from Cosatu parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks.

One of the major issues that we raised with the president is the Unemployment Insurance Fund... We put aside a significant amount of money to help workers in a time of need... We put aside an amount of about R25-billion to help those workers but there are huge logistical challenges in getting that money out...

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

To date, less than R1-billion of that money has been paid out and there have been many crashes in the system, in the online system, in the hotline system, so we've asked the president to really prioritise intervention in that regard.

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

Other interventions are also needed, says Parks, including increased social grants.

We propose either you double the social grants or you simply top them up for a period of three months, but there is also the challenge of informal workers or long-term unemployed who don't have any kind of assistance and we've asked that the Social Security Agency come with food parcels and other measures to assist them.

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

He acknowledges the payment relief offered by some banks, but says these measures have not gone far enough and need to be broadened.

Other players like furniture stores, insurance companies and medical aids also need to "come to the party".

If we're going to take a "business as usual" approach says Parks, the country will collapse.

People need to be progressive. Government can not simply police and babysit everybody. Everybody has to come to the party in a massive, significant way. That's how you can pull us through.

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

We supported the Reserve Bank's call, for example, that banks should not pay dividends right now. They need to prioritise putting payments towards consumers who are bleeding right now.

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

We need to start planning for a new life under a new normal, as we did in Cape Town with the water crisis.

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

Other needs he identifies include specific sectoral support for the parts of the economy that are devastated such as the retail and hospitality industries.

The support that has been given to them so far has been quite minimal.

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

Parks also emphasizes the need for a stimulus plan and a re-prioritisation of the budget post-shutdown.

The Reserve Bank and other economists have all roughly estimated a 6% GDP contraction, that's about R500-billion damage to the economy... We think we need a stimulus plan of at least R1-trillion. Also for every cent that the taxpayer puts on the table and workers put on the table... we would want to see the private sector in the form of the banks, the investment fund and so on, doubling that.

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

The state simply does not have enough resources to manage this level of crisis

Matthew Parks, Parliamentary co-ordinator - Cosatu

For more detail on what Cosatu envisages, listen to the conversation below:


19 April 2020 10:38 AM
Tags:
SA Economy
Nedlac
Unemployment
Job losses
Unemployment Insurance Fund UIF
COVID-19

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