Unions Call For Permanent Basic Income Grant By Next Year

Organised labour unions are calling for the permanent introduction of a basic income grant in South Africa starting next year. This comes at the back of reports that unemployment in the country has sky-rocketed to 34%.

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Cosatu, Nactu and Fedusa held their mid-year Nedlac organised labour school this week to assess progress made on key policy interventions made in the country.

The unions welcomed the reintroduction of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress R350 Grant and are of the view that it can be used as the foundation for the proposed Basic Income Grant.

Cosatu's parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks, says that South Africa's unemployment rate of more than 40% is one of the reasons why they are pushing for the implementation of the grant.

This means you have more than 12 million people with no source of income and no source of relief or help. We saw the recent violence in Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Gauteng, leave aside the political and criminal elements to it, but it fed into a sea of poverty, unemployment and hopelessness.

He adds that the country's political leaders are in mutual agreement that this necessitates the implementation of the basic income grant and that now would be the best time for its introduction.

Parks adds tha government can afford the grant.

The R350 grant right now only costs the government about R24 billion which is far cheaper than the amount of losses we saw in violence at over R50 billion. Research has shown that it has also helped workers to be able to pay for transport to go and look for work.

Parks points out that one of their main concerns is that the SRD grant is budgeted to be distributed until March and says that they believe it should be extended and made permanent.

He believes the grant should be at least to the tune of R585 as this would be a critical stepping stone since 40% of South Africa's population has no source of income.

In addition to this, the union says that government should also implement measures to ensure that workers can afford to leave their retirement as only 6% of the country's population can.

The organisation also says that there needs for there to be an equitable way of paying people and proposes that a decent leaving wage should at least be R7500 as it believes that a smaller amount leads to non-productive workers.

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