Numsa protest at Labour Department offices over UIF payments, Newsline

Cape Town – A group of National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) members protested outside the Labour Department offices on Wednesday over the non-payment of Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (Ters) benefits.

Numsa regional secretary Vuyo Lufele said the protest came as a result of queries raised with the department regarding the non-payment of Ters benefits.

The union demanded that the Ters/UIF management set up a meeting to explain why the workers were not paid, followed by a clear plan for September and October and the immediate payment of outstanding funds from April to August.

They also demanded an investigation and arrest of officials found to have been involved in corruption.

Lufele said their members were angry and frustrated with the lengthy delays in payment, and that the department had failed to respond to their queries.

“We have always blamed employers for not paying employees their Ters money because we were told by UIF officials that employers were to blame and they were failing to submit all the necessary documents.

“At some point we even have accused employers of stealing Ters money.

“However we do not want to rush and exempt all employers because we know that some of them are indeed corrupt,” Lufele said.

Lufele said the union had identified 77 companies that blatantly refused to facilitate applications to the department for Ters relief, and very few of them had been forced by them to assist workers. He said this had resulted in workers embarking on unprotected strike action and even losing their jobs.

“Some members have ended up resigning in order to access their provident fund, while others are blaming the union for its failure to provide feedback,” he said.

SA Federation of Trade Unions provincial secretary Andre Adams said there was a need to overhaul the UIF administrative system to ensure that it was efficient and that workers were paid timely and money protected.

“We still have employees that have not been paid since April, but the system indicates that the money was paid.

“Surely there is a problem with the administration of the system and the safety of the money,” he said.

Provincial Employment and Labour Department spokesperson Candice van Reenen said as of Monday the UIF had paid up to R43 billion, and about R3.4bn had been paid since the resumption of payments on September 21.

“We still have more than 400 000 applications where workers have not been declared by employers, and we have been appealing to employers to declare these employees so that we can be able to process payments,” she said.

Reenen said the department was carrying out payment runs twice a day to fast-track payments, as well as providing regular updates.

Cape Argus