Domestic workers and farm labourers called to collect UIF benefits

The Department of Employment and Labour is tracing domestic workers and farm labourers so that they may apply for UIF benefits.

Domestic workers and farm labourers called to collect UIF benefits

The Department of Employment and Labour is making all efforts to reach domestic workers and farm labourers so that they can benefit from the COVID-19 relief scheme. That includes making sure they apply and receive Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits. 

The scheme which is part of the basket of government-wide services to ensure that the worst effects of the coronavirus pandemic are mitigated has already dished out billions to workers who may not have a salary as a result of the lockdown.

SHIELDING THE MOST VULNERABLE

The Department said it is doing everything in its power to help those who are vulnerable, especially during the lockdown. If applying for UIF benefits can make a small difference then the department will continue its calls for applications. 

“Society is judged by how it tries to take care of the most vulnerable in its midst. This is why as the government in general and the Department of Employment and Labour in particular, are doing everything in their power to shield the most vulnerable from the worst of the pandemic,” said Minister of Unemployment and Labour Thulas Nxesi. 

“Since the lockdown was announced, the Department of Employment and Labour through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has handed out almost R11 billion in benefits to workers through employers. We have appealed to employers especially those who employ domestic workers and farm labourers to apply on their behalf so that they are not left wanting,” said Nxesi. 

Nxesi said the department sincerely hopes that employers, especially in the two sectors, heed their call. 

TRACING DOMESTIC WORKERS AND FARM LABOURERS 

Nxesi said the department has also enlisted the help of a private company in tracing domestic workers and farm labourers through their cell phones so that they are aware of the benefit. 

“Either [they] get the employers to claim on their behalf or reach out to the UIF themselves,” said Nxesi.

The private company, Interfile has offered to run the SMS service at no cost to UIF to these sectors. The department is currently working on the database it has to try and reach these workers.

According to departmental records, a total of 91 406 domestic workers are on the database but only 2 968 (3%) have their cell numbers listed and only 25 518 (28%) have emails.

“We appeal to employers of domestic workers, those who may have difficulties paying them to ensure that they access these services as soon as possible. The disbursements from UIF could also act as a top-up for reduced salaries and these are necessary for our mothers and sisters as they really need the break,” said Nxesi.

UIF DISBURSES JUST UNDER R12 BILLION 

So far, the UIF has disbursed just under R12 billion through 167 524 employers, benefitting 2 092 774 workers. 

A total of R155 481 810 has been paid to 56 641 workers through bargaining councils representing 909 employers.

For further information, anyone can log onto the website or reach the UIF on the toll-free number 0800-030-007.

Source : The South African More   

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Glass recyclers brought to their knees by alcohol ban

Across the country, thousands of small businesses and glass recycling collectors are on their knees, as the ban on alcohol sales has impacted those companies and individuals involved in the production and recycling of glass packaging.

Glass recyclers brought to their knees by alcohol ban

The terms of the national lockdown have adversely affected several sectors of the South African economy, but the alcohol ban is a measure that has knocked-on into glass recycling.

The Glass Recycling Company, who are mandated to ensure the recovery of waste glass for recycling nationwide say the industry has been stretched to breaking point by the lockdown.

Glass recyclers hit hard by booze ban

Demand for glass has plummeted as a result of the alcohol ban, and many businesses are reportedly on the brink of collapse.

Shabeer Jhetam, CEO of the Glass Recycling Company, says that many centres operated and owned by previously disadvantaged individuals were on the brink of collapse.

“Across the country, thousands of small businesses and glass recycling collectors are on their knees, as the ban on alcohol sales has impacted those companies and individuals involved in the production and recycling of glass packaging,” Jhetam said in a statement issued to the press on Friday 15 May.

“Many small-scale entrepreneurs, buy-back centres and cullet glass vendors have been hit hard as a result of the lack of trade, brought about by the limited sales of products in glass packaging. 

“Many of these small businesses operated by historically disadvantaged individuals, have over the past 14 years benefitted from support and training in building their recycling operations from the ground up, but they are now faced with near-certain closure as it has become impossible for them to sell their recyclable glass.”

Industry slowdown

Glass recyclers are allowed to operate during the lockdown, but other restrictions have made it nearly impossible for the industry to continue operating at close to normal capacity.

“South African glass manufacturers, unable to produce and sell alcoholic beverage bottles, are struggling immensely themselves and cannot receive or buy recyclable cullet, which is the small glass fragments used to manufacture new glass from recycled glass,” Jhetam added.

“This in turn has a horrific impact on the entire recycling supply chain since larger entrepreneurs cannot afford to collect or buy glass from buy back centres, while buy back centres are unwilling to purchase glass from the ‘man on the street’ – street collectors and so-called waste pickers. 

“In theory, recycling is permitted at an operating capacity of 50% during Level 4 of the South African lockdown, but in reality, these collectors are unable to make any income at this point. 

“In addition, entrepreneurs are unable to fund the collection of communities’ glass recycling from recycling banks, leading to excess glass potentially building up and collection points not being regularly serviced in our communities.”

Glass recyclers left in the lurch

Glass recyclers: At the moment buy-back centres are unwilling to purchase glass from the ‘man on the street’ – street collectors and so-called waste pickers Photo: Supplied

Jhetam said that the informal nature of many cogs of the industry left many of its stakeholders unable to take advantage of relief measures instituted by government and private lenders.

The impact of the slowdown is set to affect not only the economy but also the environment as waster pickers are unable to make a living selling glass to recyclers.

“The sad reality is that the majority of glass collectors and small recycling businesses will fall through the cracks as they are not able to claim grants including UIF, as they very much fall into the informal sector,” Jhetam went on.

“The poorest of the poor in our communities, facing the prospect of a consistently empty stomach, are now coping near insurmountable odds in their daily lives. These dedicated workers, often the unsung heroes in our war on waste and climate change, are starving.”

While the glass industry has done its utmost to support vulnerable businesses and individuals, Jhetam warned that this was not sustainable.

“The local glass recycling and glass production industries are on the brink of collapse. Despite this, in a generous move, glass manufacturers (Consol and Isanti Glass) together with The Glass Recycling Company, jointly funded R1.8 million in payouts to cullet vendors during April and May in order to assist these small businesses, even as they cannot buy their cullet. However, these measures are simply not sustainable any longer.

“While we appreciate and are grateful for Government’s swift response and acknowledge the possible merits of somewhat limiting alcohol sales, realistically the dire consequences of this alcohol sales ban for a broad segment of the manufacturing and recycling sector has become catastrophic and should this restriction not be lifted, it will result in nothing short of the downfall of the glass manufacturing industry and upstream and downstream supply chains, in the South African market.”

Source : The South African More   

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