Unions want South Africa’s R350 Covid grant to stay

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says that the country’s R350 Covid-19 unemployment grant needs to be continued until the end of 2021, and promises of a permanent basic income grant need to be implemented soon.

Cosatu is the largest trade federation in the country with an estimated membership of 1.8 million workers.

Presenting its post-budget proposals to parliament on Wednesday (3 March) said that the extended Covid grant was needed as ‘workers will not miraculously find jobs overnight’.

“The ANC and government have repeatedly called for a basic income grant (BIG). The R350 Covid-19 grant is a BIG in essence with all its challenges,” the trade federation said.

“The time to have a BIG is when the economy is facing its worse crisis in a century, not in some indeterminate time when things are better.”

Cosatu added that the UIF’s Covid-19 TERS needs to continue for those workers who remain under restrictions.

“It is immoral to ban workers over the age of 60 years or with co-morbidities who cannot be given alternate work or work from home from working yet provide them with no UIF relief.

“The UIF has sufficient funds available to continue to help this limited sector of the workforce.”

It added that the lower than inflation increases to social grants will be distressing for these destitute recipients.

“It is galling that National Treasury and the banks have still not proposed any measures to revamp the Loan Guarantee Scheme, despite the SONA’s commitment to precisely do that.

“The failure to ensure that the monetary policy gives some additional support to the economy in the absence of a fiscal stimulus is reckless mismanagement of the economy.”

In his state of the nation address on 11 February, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that the period for the Special Covid-19 Grant of R350 will be extended by a further three months.

Ramaphosa said that this grant has proven to be an effective and efficient short-term measure to reduce the immediate impact on the livelihoods of poor South Africans.

A national youth policy (NYP) published by the government this week also states that a basic income grant should be introduced  – particularly for the unemployed young South Africans.

“(This will) support young people and young discouraged jobseekers’ efforts to enter the labour market by introducing a Basic Universal Income Grant – an incentive similar to the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant primarily to support youth to transition into employment or entrepreneurship,” it said.

Read: Basic income grant and removal of work experience requirements proposed for people under 35 in South Africa

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Unions want South Africa’s R350 Covid grant to stay