Employees and employers are at loggerheads over delayed payouts of money due to workers by the UIF-Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters). The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) warned that if the money was not paid, its members would be forced to retrench hundreds of thousands of workers. Many employees said they were struggling to make ends meet and accused employers of deliberately not paying over their dues from the Covid-19 distress relief funds. But employers who spoke to The Citizen expressed frustration that the scheme was not processing the applications they had submitted on behalf of their employees during…
Employees and employers are at loggerheads over delayed payouts of money due to workers by the UIF-Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (Ters).
The Restaurant Association of SA (Rasa) warned that if the money was not paid, its members would be forced to retrench hundreds of thousands of workers. Many employees said they were struggling to make ends meet and accused employers of deliberately not paying over their dues from the Covid-19 distress relief funds.
But employers who spoke to The Citizen expressed frustration that the scheme was not processing the applications they had submitted on behalf of their employees during the lockdown. Many restaurant owners said they had submitted claim after claim, but nothing had been forthcoming from the government.
“The biggest problem is Ters, which has not processed applications we submit to them,” said a manager of a leading restaurant group in Johannesburg. Another manager said some employees were paid by Ters and others were ignored, which was frustrating for companies. The problem has spread throughout the industry countrywide.
Also read: PREMIUM: NDZ and JZ’s daughter in UIF dispute with restaurant employees
Rasa chief executive officer Wendy Alberts, described the situation as “diabolical” for the industry. “It’s a complete fiasco, we talked to the commissioner [for UIF] but nothing has changed. But they must understand that these employees are going to land in their books as unemployed because our members in the restaurants are going to retrench hundreds of thousands [of people].
“We are worried because some of them have bonds, premiums and accounts to pay and our members have rents and salaries to pay and that is too much. They cannot cope with what the government is doing and they cannot keep staff because they are struggling to survive themselves,” Alberts said.
Irate workers at Grill House restaurant in Rosebank and four other eateries under the same group are crying foul after their employer failed to pay their UIF monies, leaving them destitute. Their colleagues at Grill House branches in Melrose Arch in Melrose, 11 Alice Lane Sandton, Kitchen Grill in Rosebank and Kartz in Rosebank, expressed similar frustration with their employers.
Of the 20 employees at Grill House Rosebank, only four had received their benefits. The restaurant only opened on Tuesday last week after closing under the lockdown regulations. The employees said they had been waiting for the last three months.
“We don’t know why they are not giving us our money. If they say it’s the labour department that has not paid, why don’t they show us proof. “We are still waiting,” said an employee at Rosebank Grill House who asked to remain anonymous. But Grill House manager Chani Gardner said they paid the first during the first months when they received the money from the department. But, subsequently, they could not because the department wanted to pay directly to the employees.
“The biggest problem is Ters which has not processed applications. We have done what we needed to do, but Ters has been giving us a run-around. It’s bad when our employees had contributed money but now were unable to access it when they need it the most,” Gardner said.
At Ocean Basket situated at Lifestyle Centre in Centurion and News Cafe in Hatfield, Pretoria, both owned by Theo Moodley, some distraught employees complained about not being paid. They said their boss was blaming the labour department for delaying payment.
Also read: How can restaurants possibly still survive?
An employee at Ocean Basket Centurion, who also did not to be named, said: “I wonder if [Moodley)]is still going to pay us because this month we are borrowing money for transport and rent and they don’t want even to help us,” he said.
Moodley co-owned Urban Moyo restaurant at 24 Central Mall in Sandton with Gugulethu Zuma, daughter of Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma and former president Jacob Zuma. The Urban Moyo staff said they had not been paid UIF monies and only foreign nationals had received their money. Yesterday, Moodley said every bit of UIF money received by his company had been paid out in full to employees.
“The issue is that we haven’t received full payment from UIF yet,” he said.
Moodley said several associates in the industry were suffering from the same treatment. This was echoed by Gardner, who said the problem had affected the entire restaurant sector.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.