Union Supports Basic Income Grant, Slams Job Seekers Grant

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Approximately 33.9% of South Africa’s working-age population is unemployed. This means that a considerable portion of the population is unable to meet basic needs and requires financial assistance to survive.

 


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The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has declared their support for a Basic Income Grant (BIG). This comes after the South African government proposed several possible alternatives to the outgoing Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant.

Nehawu says their support for a BIG is based on the urgent need to address the economic crises and social reproduction facing nearly half of the country’s population. The union pointed to the impact of the SRD grant as motivation for supporting the introduction of a BIG.

“We strongly believe that the government should use the SRD Grant as the basis for expanding into a universal basic income grant in the quest of providing social security for all of our people. The universal basic income grant will provide our people with dignified livelihoods and social protection,” declared the Union.

The SRD grant was introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. These national lockdowns meant that unemployed individuals had no means of earning money to meet their basic needs.

It was important to note that before the introduction of the SRD grant, individuals between the ages of 18 and 59 years old received no financial assistance from the government.

With the SRD set to expire in March 2023, the government has proposed several alternatives to ensure that vulnerable individuals continue to receive support. However, some of these  alternatives have been labelled problematic.

Nehawu has opposed the proposal of splitting the current SRD grant beneficiaries into categories which will determine the type of relief they receive. These categories would see beneficiaries receive either a jobseeker, caregiver, and/or household grants.

The union said National Treasury is unable to provide any solutions to poverty and accused them of dogmatically sticking to a catastrophic and failing Neoliberal macroeconomic straightjacket.

Nehawu said the ANC-led government must instead accelerate the introduction of a universal BIG as part of phasing in a comprehensive social security system resolution in line with their messages at party national conferences.

 


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