Solidarity economic researcher Piet le Roux said this emerged from the union’s fourth labour market report for 2013.
“In 2013, the [Unemployment Insurance Fund] collected R7.6 billion more than it needed to pay unemployment benefits,” he said in a statement.
“In 2013, this unnecessary recovery of premiums withdrew an amount from the economy equivalent to the amount that could be used to employ 278,000 farm workers at minimum wages, or 158,000 entry level employees at an illustrative R4000 per month.”
He said the current premiums were so high that the fund would still show an annual surplus in income if they were halved.
In the past 10 years, the UIF had accumulated an investment portfolio of more than R80bn.
The report also found that wage increases linked to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) actually impoverished workers over time.
Le Roux said broader measures of inflation were needed to maintain workers’ buying power.
“Therefore, to even merely earn the same real income year after year, employees have no choice but to negotiate increases that are a few percentage points above CPI inflation.”