Open letter addressed to:
- Mr Shadrack Mkhonto, the Compensation Commissioner
- Ms LE Yengeni, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour
- The Hon. Mildred Oliphant, Minister of Labour
- Mr T Lamati, DG of the Department of Labour
Dear Mr Mkhonto
Call for immediate and effective improvement of service from the office of the Compensation Commissioner in respect of compensation for occupational injuries and diseases
As a trade union Solidarity is greatly concerned about the health and safety of its members and of workers in general, and therefore we place a high premium on it. As proof of our commitment, Solidarity has established an Occupational Health and Safety Department dedicated to promoting the health and safety of workers and to alleviate the negative consequences of occupational diseases and injuries suffered.
Solidarity is currently assisting approximately 800 of its members with their claims against the Compensation Fund. The union is extremely perturbed by the little progress that has been made to finalise these claims, which clearly has to be attributed to a total lack of service delivery from the office of the Compensation Commissioner.
Mr Mkhonto, the claimants are people with families who have endured the trauma of serious injury or illness, and many of them are unable to continue their work. Medical bills pile up because medical professionals are not prepared to wait for years to be paid by your office.
Service delivery from your office has been wanting for over ten years now, and our concerns in this regard have been communicated to you on numerous occasions. We have even taken you to court in certain instances.
Some of the problems encountered are the following:
- It takes long to register the awards on the system after claims have been administered.
- The service rendered by the call centre is totally inadequate. Not only is it quite normal to wait at least 45 minutes before a call is taken, and if taken, the call is often just picked up and dropped without a word being spoken, or the incorrect information is provided. I need to stress that this seems to be standard operating procedure as it is a recurring, daily problem and not an isolated occurrence.
- For over a year, Solidarity has not received faxes from the Compensation Fund because the fax machine was out of order. At least that is what we have been told by Compensation Fund staff members.
- Some members of staff have acknowledged that they are not familiar with sending e-mails, for instance they do not know how to attach documents to an e-mail.
- Since the decentralisation of the Compensation Fund’s offices, Solidarity often does not receive any reply to enquiries directed to regional offices.
- It would appear as if the entire office’s functioning has ground to a halt following the implementation of the Umehluko system:
- Employees and trade unions representing workers are effectively excluded from submitting documents to the Compensation Fund. Only employers and doctors may register on the system and submit documents, although the right of employees to submit claims and documentation themselves is recognised by the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (No. 130 of 1993).
- Documentation is not accepted in hard copy format. Only electronic submissions made on the system by an employer or doctor are accepted.
- Employees and unions that act on behalf of employees do not have access to the Umehluko system to monitor the progress of claims.
- Since the implementation of the Umehluko system very few, if any compensation payments have been made to any of the persons Solidarity represents, notwithstanding the fact that claims have been approved for payment.
We demand that effective and immediate action be taken to provide an effective compensation service to workers.
We appeal to the Honourable Minister, Mildred Oliphant, Ms Lumka Yengeni, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour, and Mr Thobile Lamati, Director-General of the Department of Labour, to hold the Compensation Commissioner accountable.
How long must we wait? Mr Compensation Commissioner, where are you?
No personal details other than your name and surname would be disclosed to the compensation commissioner. We’ll update you by SMS and email on the campaign’s progress. By signing the petition letter it is presumed that Solidarity may contact you about this and other projects of the trade union.