Angry locals have criticized the Department of Labour’s processes to deal with UIF applications. Due to the national lockdown, hundreds of people are applying for UIF and maternity benefits daily, but the turnaround time is achingly slow. The department says they are under strain due to the immense backlog of applications.
Several disgruntled unemployed workers lined the streets outside of the labour department’s satellite offices in Athlone on Wednesday morning with the hopes that they would finally be able to attain their unemployment funds. Some say they stood outside since last night after they were told only 50 people would be assisted this morning. Those who spoke to VOC News called it a “travesty of justice” that elderly people and mothers had to sit in the cold, with the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus.
A recipient waiting in the queue, Nicole Brown said she is appalled at the way the labour department operates.
“People have ended up camping outside the office in hopes that they will be attended to and with a national lockdown in place and a curfew, it is truly unacceptable,” shouted Brown.
Manuel Rouckruge who also found himself in the snaking-queue said they wouldn’t be standing in the elements for hours on end if they didn’t need the funds.
“Someone needs to explain to me how you can service only 50 people a day if there are millions and millions of people that need to be paid out. We are depending on these funds to feed our families. We are hungry and we are angry,” protested Rouckruge.
Nurhaan Petersen who awaits her maternity benefits stated she had been to the offices more than three times.
“I’ve been on maternity leave since March I’ve been to these offices time and time again all to be turned away even whilst all the documents requested from the department have been supplied to them. What will it take for us to get our own money that we worked our backsides off to get,” said Petersen.
Philicia Percurre suggested that the labour department introduce a ticket system to avoid confusion.
“The government is treating its people unfairly especially in the cape flats. I think to resolve this ongoing problem we need to be issued tickets to assure a person they will be helped, and they will be served timeously and not have to sleep out side on the pavement and bare the cold and coronavirus,” stated Percurre.
Merwaan Nazeer calls the service from the department a travesty.
“Under the circumstances I am fairly calm but I usually am not, this is the third day I am standing in this damned queue for my own money that has been accumulating over the past 20 years. I don’t think its fair that my payments were stopped shortly after it had started. This is whole department is a circus,” snivelled Nazeer.
The department of labour was not unavailable for official comment. VOC News understands that the department is dealing with a hefty backlog and is gravely understaffed. However, since then, changes were made to ensure the workload is eased and distributed among more employees. Furthermore, due to lockdown regulations and covid-19 safety protocols, the labour department only allows 50 people for the sake of social distancing.