Cosatu asks for speedy passing of UIF Bill

Cosatu’s says it should have been passed yesterday and could make a huge difference to thousands.

Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has urged Parliament to Speedily Pass A New Bill that aims to extend Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payments and widen the net of those who will qualify for cover.

The fund is currently sitting on a massive surplus of R120 billion, which is ring-fenced and cannot be used for anything other than unemployment benefits.

The Unemployment Insurance Amendment Bill aims to put some of that money back into the pockets of those who find themselves out of work.

Among a range of changes, the bill aims to extend UIF pay-outs from eight to 12 months, and to fix the rate for maternity benefits at 66 percent of a claimant's salary.

The Bill has political backing across party lines.

Cosatu's Matthew Parks says it should have been passed yesterday, and could make a huge difference to thousands of workers losing their jobs each week.

"Another positive thing about this Bill is that it helps to reduce the UIF's surplus in a progressive way, also by releasing more money into the economy, [it will] stimulate the economy, stimulate economic growth and help the most indigent of our society."

The Bill also allows for the labour minister to issue regulations that will see that domestic workers and employees of small businesses are also covered.

Workers put on short time will also be able to claim benefits for lost income.

The trade union federation has issues with aspects of the Bill but parks says that's no reason to delay its passage into law.