By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the activation of the National Social Security Authority’s (NSSA) scheme to cover workers during the current Covid-19 menace was an ambitious undertaking considering failed attempts to cover the same workers under different arrangements in the past.
This follows a recent announcement by Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mavima the Accident Prevention Workers Compensation Scheme has been activated after considerations Covid-19 was a compensable disease for healthcare workers and others who may contract the disease during the course of duty.
Responding to the announcement Sunday, ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo dismissed the feasibility of the scheme under the current economic difficulties.
“Our experience as labour is that currently, NSSA is struggling to avail meaningful compensation for pensioners who have entrusted the authority with their earnings during their time in work.
“Most of them are receiving payouts well below US$20 equivalent per month. So how will this measure be effective for Covid-19 infected workers,” he said.
The ZCTU chief said most employers were in the habit of not remitting the NSSA dues even after deducting the monies from their employees.
Against that background, he said, the new development posed fresh headaches for employees as the authority only assisted workers who were fully paid up.
Said Moyo, “So to then say NSSA’s contribution will be meaningful to workers who contract the virus is almost impossible because apart from these challenges, it is the authority which uses its discretion to determine the quantum of compensation workers deserve.”
He said under normal circumstances, workers who ran into work related mishaps should be compensated based on amounts equivalent to their monthly wages.
This, he said, was not always the case as workers got far below their lost incomes.
He added, “So, currently these employees are getting salaries which are far below the poverty consumption lines and to be told that under the compensation, they will be earning, say, 60 % of that will be equivalent to nothing.”
Under the recent measures, Minister Mavima said similar arrangements were being provided for in the compensation for work related diseases and injuries for workers in the civil service.
Safety and health guidelines for all workers regarding the Covid-19 pandemic have been crafted detailing the preventive measures to be considered by each workplace.
Part of the measures include provision of adequate and appropriate personal protective equipment, temperature screening, provision of adequate sanitary facilities and maintaining social distancing at the workplace.
The guidelines recommend suspension of all spirometry tests, routine breathalyzer test and other surveillance tests.