The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) is aggrieved by the inhumane conditions subjected by the working class in diverse sectors of the economy. The non-payment of staff salaries in the bus passenger, aviation, security and cleaning sectors, to name a few, has exacerbated existing antagonisms between the working class and owners of means of production.
The coronavirus unveiled that capitalism and its political, ideological and productive relations are no longer compatible with existing social conditions. The virus on the other end, has created new conditions of oppression for the working class. The new form of struggle can be located in the abuse of the Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). Besides the administrative setbacks at the Department of Employment and Labour, a large proportion of employers are yet to apply for TERS owing to years of non-compliance.
It has come to our attention that a majority of employers in the security, cleaning, aviation and bus passenger sector have over the year’s undermined labour legislation with regards to the payment of UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund). The noncompliance results from multiple factors such as non-registration of workers and/or deduction but non-payment of the UIF. The latest case of union members earning humiliating and shameful salaries in the bus passenger sector is a consequence of noncompliance. Moreover, affected employees were/are instructed to claim directly from the UIF. To add insult to injury, workers in the bus passenger sector are made to suffer despite the fact that employers receive guaranteed cash injections from the government in the form of monthly subsidies.
The integrity and intelligence of workers in relation to the interpretation of TERS has been undermined by many role players/actors in the economy. It is important, therefore, to clarify this deliberate misinterpretation.
Employers have used the coronavirus as a scapegoat to cut employee salaries. Notwithstanding that others (small and medium companies) are unable to keep their doors open or pay staff salaries. Unfortunately, TERS does not guarantee full payment of employee salaries. The combination of these factors suggests that the downtrodden will be most affected by the negative effects of the current health, climate and economic crisis. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels best described the current capitalist crisis as follows,
“… Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed…”
It is indisputable that capitalist relations are in a general state of decay. Nevertheless, as we envisage a post-capitalist social order, we are duty-bound to address the immediate socio-economic interests of the working class. The contradictions surrounding TERS and non-compliance of employers have been reported to the Minister of Employment and Labour (Thulas Nxesi). Likewise, if the Minister’s intervention fails to bring lasting solutions, workers should not be expected to return to work from 04 May 2020.
SATAWU has requested an urgent meeting with the Minister to expedite the payment of TERS to bargaining councils and employers that applied on time. Furthermore, to exert pressure on struggling businesses to apply for TERS in order to pay employee salaries. Had employers complied with legislation, the current situation in the security, cleaning, aviation and bus passenger sector could’ve been avoided. SATAWU will report back to all its members affected by the non-payment of salaries after its meeting with the Minister of Employment and Labour.
Issue by: Comrade Jack Mazibuko (SATAWU General Secretary): (082) 660-4793
: Comrade Anele Kiet (SATAWU Deputy General Secretary): (073) 684-1912