“I used to work at K-Mart on the East Rand. But in 1983 they said they did not need me anymore. I have not had a job since then. I live alone in a small room in Soweto. My family live in Natal. I have 2 sisters and 5 brothers. My brother is the only person in my family who is working.
“Last month I was sick and I did not have money. Some relatives gave me money to go to the doctor. Even now I am not well but there is nothing I can do. Life is very difficult if you do not have a job. Everything costs a lot of money.
“When you look for work, they tell you that they have just fired someone. So they cannot employ you. This has happened to me many times. At first I felt very angry but now I do not. I just go on and hope to find a job.”
‘This is Fred Ndlhovu’s story.” But many people will tell you the same story. Some people say that there are four million people without work — and that the number is growing everyday.
WHY SO MANY PEOPLE CAN’T FIND WORK
Joel Baloyi is also unemployed. Joel told us why he thinks more and more people are losing their jobs. “I think that there is unemployment because of the bosses. The bosses must try to keep their workers. They must make jobs for people.
“People could share work. One person could work in the morning and another could work in the afternoon. Then at the end of the month they could share the money. If the bosses did this, there would be very little unemployment.”
The second reason is that bosses are buying machines and robots to do work. Robots and machines are not paid any money. So the bosses make more money. Many people in Port Elizabeth lost their jobs when the bosses bought machines to make cars.’ The last reason is that people are not trained. If people knew how to weld, they can make their own jobs. The government must train people — then there won’t be so many people without work.”
WE NEED REAL CHANGES
But Alec Erwin, education officer of COSATU says, “If you want to understand unemployment, you must also understand what is happening in South Africa.”
At the moment people are losing their jobs because business is bad. And business is bad because people are fighting against apartheid. The government and the bosses do not know what to do. They want to stop the fighting so that business can get better.
“But they are frightened to make real changes. And only real changes will stop the fighting. They are frightened that the government will come falling down. And with a new government in South Africa, they will not make such big profits anymore.”
WHAT UNEMPLOYMENT DOES TO PEOPLE
Unemployment is also a big problem in England. Doctors there worked with people who cannot find jobs. They say that most people without jobs feel the same way.
NO HOPE AND NO PRIDE
People stop looking for jobs because they have no hope. They feel that they are not as good as other people. They lose their pride because they cannot bring in money for their families.
Often unemployed people feel so bad that they start drinking. They drink so that they don’t think. People without jobs don’t like to be with people. Doctors say that sometimes people get sick, just because they feel so bad about themselves.
Yvonne Walaza, mother of two children told us this story. “I have a husband who is unemployed. I am the only one working at home. Very soon I am going on maternity leave.”When my husband lost his job three years ago, he changed. He is very short tempered these days. Sometimes when I talk to him, he just gets angry. He says that I talk like that because I am still working. If I did not have a job, I would not talk to him like that.
“He tries to help at home. He buys bags and sells them. But a lot of people do not pay him. Money is tight for everyone.”
People must understand that feeling bad is part of not having a job. If people know this, it helps to fight the bad feeling. You must also understand that you can’t get a job because there are no jobs at the moment. It is not because you are useless.
It is important to keep yourself busy — even if it means helping at home by washing and cooking, or looking after the children. Find out what is happening around you. Maybe you can help at a nearby creche or clinic.
There is always work to do. If you do not know of any place where you can help, then start something yourself. Dig a garden, help your neighbours, make things that you can sell. All these things will help you to feel better.
HELP FROM THE UNIONS
The unions said that because so many people are without work, they want to help. CUSA — the Council of Unions of South Africa and COSATU — the Congress of South African Trade Unions — both want to bring un-employed people together. CUSA started unemployed workers’ committees. Cosatu want to start an unemployed workers’ union.
GETTING UIF MONEY
UIF is the Unemployment Insurance Fund. This fund gives money to people who can’t find work. UIF only pays you 45% of what you used to earn. It is not much but it is better than nothing. For every six weeks that you work, you get one week’s UIF money. But you can’t get UIF for longer than six months — you only get UIF money for six months if you worked for three years before you ask for it.
When you are working, your boss takes money from your wages for UIF.
You will see this on your payslip. Even if you come from the “independent” homelands, you can get UIF. Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, Transkei and Venda all have their own UIF.
HOW TO GET UIF
1. GET YOUR BLUE CARD
When you leave your job, your boss MUST give you your blue card. Take your blue card to the UIF offices. You must go as soon as possible.
CHECK THAT YOUR BLUE CARD IS RIGHT.
1. Check the date you started and left the job. 2. Check that your boss writes down the right wages. 3. Make sure that your boss gave the right reason for you leaving your job. (1) means that you wanted to leave. (2) means that your boss said you must leave because there is no work for you.
(3) means you were fired (4) means your contract was finished and you will not get another contract.
2. GO TO THE UIF OFFICES
There are different UIF offices for different people — African workers with Section 10 rights must go to the nearest administration board or labour office. — contract workers must go to the labour office where they got their contract — White, “Coloured” and Indian workers must go to the Department of Manpower.
AFTER YOU LEAVE YOUR JOB YOU MUST ASK FOR UIF MONEY BEFORE NINE MONTHS HAS PASSED. OTHERWISE YOU WILL NOT GET MONEY.
3. AT THE UIF OFFICE
At the office they will ask you many questions. They will ask you if you want to work. You MUST say yes — otherwise they will refuse to pay you.
Then they will fill in forms to say you want UIF money. They may send you to look for work. But if they cannot find a job for you, they must pay you UIF money.
If you have a “1” or a “3”in your blue card, you have to wait for six weeks before they give you your money. This is because they say you lost your job through your own fault.
They will take your blue card and give you a check card — a UF7. They will tell you when you must come and sign for your money. At some offices you sign every two weeks, at other offices it is every four weeks. You have to sign to show that you are not working.
But the important thing is that you must always go and sign. Otherwise they will not pay you your money. If you have problems getting UIF, ask for help from an advice office.
NEVER GIVE UP WITH UIF. REMEMBER THAT YOU PAID MONEY INTO THE UIF. THEY ARE ONLY GIVING YOU YOUR MONEY BACK.