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Labour minister address worker’s grievances during Covid-19 lockdown

Labour Minister Thulani Nxesi has pleaded with employers not to force workers to take their annual leave, during inter-ministerial committee media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday. This was after the Department of Employment and Labour received complaints from workers during 21 days of lockdown.

“As the Department of Employment and Labour we are receiving concerns from workers and unions that some employers are seeking to shift the burden of the lockdown onto the workers, using their annual leave as the first line of response to the lockdown” 

“We are also getting complaints from workers that their employers have instructed them to take unpaid leave during this lockdown. However, this is a unique situation, that requires all of us to act in a manner that promotes social solidarity. said Nxesi.

Nxesi added that the department has already set aside money to assist companies to pay employees during the lockdown.

“We have also announced a National Disaster COVID 19 benefit that the UIF has put in place as an instrument to mitigate the effects of lay-offs of workers during the lockdown. We have put in place systems to pay out UIF benefits through companies, sectoral associations and bargaining council,” said Nxesi.

The minister said that the department is putting in place systems to have the UIF benefits paid.  

“I urge all parties to get together and engage so that we can expedite the payment of these monies to the workers that need them. The UIF staff is available to assist in any way necessary,” said Nxesi.

He concluded and said that it is prohibited for non-essential workers to be forced to report for duty during the lockdown.

“It appears that some employers who are not delivering essential services and goods are forcing their employees to work. In terms of Regulations 11G, this is a criminal offence,” 

“Employees not involved in a business delivering essential services forced to work is entitled to contact the SAPS.” said Nxesi.

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