The ANC’s early clarion calls that we’re 'all in this together' start to ring a little hollow with questionable decisions like this.
It is disturbing that the government has decided to go against its own pledges to workers laid off because of Covid-19 and unilaterally terminate the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) benefits as at 15 September.
The decision was taken after a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council and made public by Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. The announcement was made despite the fact that, in a Government Gazette on 7 September, it was stated clearly that Ters benefits would be extended until the end of the National State of Disaster on 15 November.
Unions and businesses are united in their condemnation of the move. Trade union umbrella body Cosatu has calculated that extending the payments until 15 November will cost the government R8 billion. This amount seems almost trivial in light of the stated plans by the ANC to pour more than R10 billion into the bottomless money pit which is South African Airways.
The move to end the support for retrenched workers indicates two things clearly. First, the ANC has realised that money is extremely tight – due to a collapsing economy which has been weakened even further by Covid-19. Second, in choosing to fund a basket case airline instead of supporting the unemployed (which can have a positive spinoff in stimulating some economic activity), our leaders have shown themselves to not be great supporters of workers or of the poor, to put it mildly.
This global pandemic has been said to be a oncein-a-lifetime event – and for many who lost their jobs through the lockdowns imposed to slow down the spread of the virus, it has been life-changing. And, for the worse in most cases.
The ANC’s early clarion calls that we’re “all in this together” start to ring a little hollow with questionable decisions like this.
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