Unemployed people queue for UIF payments. Picture: JAMES OATWAY
Unemployed people queue for UIF payments. Picture: JAMES OATWAY

Now that the department of employment & labour has sent out a protocol for people who test positive for the coronavirus and need to claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) we are going to see thousands of those claims coming in hourly.

Already the UIF is battling with the weight of claims coming in daily, and we can expect to see this multiple tenfold within days.

I have been involved in the retrenchment process of about 50 companies over the past two weeks. This is expected to multiply with the latest disaster management regulations. As an example, we see that more than 5,000 Israelis are filing for unemployment every hour since the country declared a state of  emergency. This has led to havoc in the national economy and the Israeli employment services website has crashed.

Three weeks ago, before the virus struck SA, I asked UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping whether he was ready for a deluge of claims. He stated categorically that the UIF was more than able to manage a huge wave of claimants. The acting director-general of the department of employment & labour echoed Maruping’s assurance and confirmed that officials had been forewarned.

Yet my understanding is that we are already starting to see system failure. Let’s hope the department has had the foresight in the interim to bring more hands on board and to enhance its systems to withstand the tsunami that is already visible on the horizon.

Michael Bagraim, MP
DA deputy shadow employment & labour minister

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