75 000 workers affected by unrest may be retrenched

- in World News

Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi on Wednesday said a confirmed 75,000 workers have been affected by the recent civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Nxesi on Wednesday addressed a media briefing on Covid-19 Alert Level 3 measures in relation to the labour and employment sector.

“Employment and Labour is committed to assist workers who have been affected by the recent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal,” said Nxesi.

“According to our own assessment about 75 000 employees have been affected by the latest unrests in the two provinces and this may mean a temporal work stoppage or an outright retrenchment.”

Nxesi said that the Unemployment Insurance Fund has a basket of benefits that can serve as intervention mechanism to the affected workers and companies as a result of the unrest.

“It should be mentioned upfront that there is currently no benefit quite suitable for the current situation, and Covid-19 TERS cannot be applicable as it was established as an intervention for a disaster situation.”

Nxesi said that the current benefits under the Unemployment Insurance Act are the only interventions available to cover the affected workers.

“However, in order to ensure that some of the basic tenets of the Act are not violated, the Department is going to draft a special directive dealing with the affected workers in the two provinces,” explained Nxesi.

He said that the department would ensure that that workers who would normally not qualify for these benefits due to non-compliance with the Act are able to access the benefits.

“I should emphasise that it will not be a free for all, the criteria to determine who qualifies is going to be very stringent and payments will not be generous. Whiles it is our desire to pay all affected workers, it should be borne in mind that finance is a limited resource.”

He said that some of the businesses that were affected will not fully recover from the damage of the unrest, which will result in retrenchments.

He said that the UIF will ensure that it prioritises those retrenched employees in some of the Labour Activation Programmes that are designed to place retrenched workers in employment opportunities.

-The Citizen

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