Cape Town - The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has roped in Cosatu Western Cape and affiliated unions to help in its fight against fraud and corruption at labour centres and businesses.
The fund has urged union members to report such activities, particularly by government officials, to law enforcement agencies.
In 2021, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found 939 individuals, across four government departments in the Western Cape, who had illegally claimed Covid-19 Ters (Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme) funds amounting to R1.1 million.
Speaking at a briefing session in Cape Town, attended by more than 150 delegates from Cosatu-affiliated unions, UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping said the auditing of businesses as part of the “follow the money” project continued across the country.
Maruping said the project identified businesses that abused Covid-19 monies instead of paying workers, and said these businesses were being dealt with through the criminal justice system.
He said unions could help enhance compliance by ensuring employers registered, declared and paid monthly contributions for their workers to the UIF.
“While some employers are good corporate citizens who comply, the majority of them do not register workers, or deduct UIF contributions, or pay over deducted contributions to the fund.
“This sort of non-compliance is an [infringement of] worker rights and demands that the UIF build a strong partnership with organised labour to protect workers.”
Last month, Maruping joined forensic auditors in Cape Town – who were knocking on the doors of employers who had benefited from the Covid-19 Ters scheme – as part of the second phase of the “follow the money” project.
Cosatu Western Cape provincial secretary Malvern de Bruyn called on the Department of Employment and Labour to expedite investigations into allegations of fraud and corruption relating to the Covid-19 Ters scheme.
De Bruyn said: “What we’ve seen in the workplace is that workers are not aware of the current legislation.
“They are not aware of what their rights are when it comes to UIF, especially farm workers in rural areas.”
He said they would take the partnership with the UIF to the rural areas, along with the Department of Labour, to ensure workers didn’t just know their rights, but also to ensure they knew where to go to claim benefits.
Among the unions represented by delegates at the session were members of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union and the Agricultural Food and Allied Democratic Workers Union.