Labour minister: We'll use UIF, Compensation Fund to help beat unemployment

Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi told reporters ahead of his budget vote that his department would leverage the Unemployment insurance Fund and the Compensation Fund as agents in job preservation and skills development for the unemployed.

Nxesi tabled his budget vote on Wednesday morning. It was the department’s first budget vote since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that it would be reconfigured to put job creation at the core of its mandate.

The UIF buffers the impact of unemployment through contributions occupants make while they are gainfully employed. The CF offers compensation to workers who lose a job or the ability to work due to occupational injuries and disease.

"We provide coordination and seek to collaborate and align our efforts with other departments and agencies both to create jobs and to ensure that our people get the skills required in the marketplace," said Nxesi.

Reskilling

Nxesi said after the department's reconfiguration, government had no excuse to stand by while jobs continued to dwindle. He said passive mechanisms could be used to give the unemployed skills to empower them for the job market.

"The UIF exists to protect from the impact of unemployment and to help create jobs.

"You can't say you want to create jobs and allow the jobs bloodbath. We are talking about reskilling workers so they are not adversely affected by changes in the labour market, such as the fourth industrial revolution," Nxesi said.

He did not go into detail on how the two funds would be used for the job preservation and skills development.

Occupational health and safety

Nxesi did, however, say the department would plough more resources into mechanisms to monitor work conditions around the country.

"This financial year, we will appoint an additional 500 occupational health and safety officers. This will go some way to improving the safety of workers in the workplace," Nxesi said.

He said that the department would not be able to meet the requirements for inspectors in every work place on its own and that unions and the media were critical social partners in ensuring decent work conditions.

"It's impossible to place an inspector in every single workplace. That is why we rely on shop stewards and the media to ensure accountability. If you look at the base nationally there are 1.7 million employers. The ratio of inspectors to employers is one to 20 000. It’s impossible," said Nxesi.

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