Workers who were affected by unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng will soon be able to apply for monetary relief, Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi says.

Nxesi on Wednesday gave an outline of the benefits for workers who were affected by the lockdown and the unrest.

Two weeks ago, citizens in KZN and Gauteng went on a looting rampage, leading to businesses being shut down and some infrastructure destroyed.

There was an outcry about the possible impact on job losses due to some businesses possibly closing down forever, and others temporarily.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had mentioned the economic relief during his Sunday night address.

Nxesi unpacked this, saying it was estimated that over 72 000 workers in Gauteng and KZN may have been affected by the unrest and violence.

He said there was currently no benefit designed for this situation, but that his department would be issuing directives in the coming days to detail the benefits scheme.

It is envisioned that by Friday this should be wrapped up, with applications possibly being accepted by next week.

Nxesi stressed that the directives would outline how the payouts would work, but he insisted that it would not be “free for all”. He said stringent measures would be put in place to avoid fraud.

He said as with the UIF Ters scheme, introduced in March last year, employers would play a key role in signing up workers. However, the money will be paid out directly into the bank accounts of workers.

With regards to the Ters scheme, R5.3 billion has been budgeted for the new phase of the scheme for companies affected by level 4. Labour department Director-General Thobile Lamati said these funds were likely to also be used to assist workers affected by the unrest.

Nxesi said the UIF had another Ters scheme designed to assist companies in distress. Companies who have a plan to turn around their businesses in six months can apply for this scheme through the CCMA.

The minister said another reality was that some businesses may never recover from the impact of the unrest. Workers who have been retrenched or laid off will be eligible for skills training offered by the UIF, Nxesi said.

Nxesi said the government was committed to saving jobs.

The UIF Ters scheme has so far paid out over R61bn and assisted 5.4 million workers. A further 705 million has been paid out in relief.

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