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No funds kept to thank farmers, says department

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Claims that government has set aside relief funds to thank farmworkers for working during lockdown are false and should not be entertained, the Limpopo Department of Employment and Labour said on Friday.

According to the provincial department, the rumour started when inspectors recently conducted examinations in several farms around the Phalaborwa and Mopani District Municipalities.

The department said the workers also threatened to go on strike after demanding a risk allowance for having worked during the lockdown.

“In terms of the current regulations, the department only has the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) through the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) that was made available for employers and employees who could not operate during the lockdown,” explained provincial Chief Inspector, Phaswane Tladi.

Some workers have made demands to employers to either thank them for or pay them a danger allowance for performing when the country went on lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, this is not in the current prescript of the law,” he said.

However, he said the department cannot interfere with any arrangement between an employer and employee on such incentives, nor force employers to pay such benefits.

“We urge workers to refrain from participating in such unprotected strikes that may lead to loss of employment.”

Workers are advised to enquire with relevant authorities when there are misunderstandings.

“Our officials are available and ready to guide them even before they get themselves into unprotected strikes based on hearsay and rumour,” said Tladi. – SAnews.gov.za

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