Thursday, 29 November 2007 13:57
Press release: Immediate
The country's first union-sponsored funeral benefit scheme specifically for HIV positive workers has been announced today by the Southern African Clothing & Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU).
"The union has established an Endowment Fund to finance the benefit and will allocate R10 million from its investment income to this Fund", said Mr Ebrahim Patel, the union's General Secretary.
The Fund will provide a funeral benefit to HIV positive members for a one-year period after they have left their employment.
This R10m will be invested in the money market, and half the annual earnings would be made available to be used for the expanded benefit. The remainder would be used to retain the real value of this special fund.
This benefit will be made available to any member who, as a result of being HIV positive, is no longer able to work and leaves his/her employment. The benefit will be payable if the member passes away within 12 months of leaving their workplace and is available to any member who has been a fully-paid up member of the union for 5 years or more prior to leaving his/her workplace as a result of illness.
The benefit will come into operation from 1 May 2008 and will be in place for a three year period, where after the union will decide the future of the benefit based on the costs, claims record and financial sustainability of the scheme.
This decision was taken at the union's National Executive Committee meeting held on 26-28 November 2007.
SACTWU, an affiliate of COSATU, becomes the first trade union in the country to offer such a post-employment funeral benefit to HIV positive union members.
Currently, all union members in employment (including HIV positive members) are already covered by the union's funeral benefit fund while they are employed. The new funeral scheme will for the first time make a funeral benefit available to members AFTER they have left their employment due illness because of HIV/AIDS.
The union also runs an active HIV/Aids awareness programme. Up to the end of October this year alone, the union has run workplace awareness programmes covering 79 000 clothing, textile and leather workers; trained 951 shopstewards in HIV/Aids awareness issues and serviced 1 420 workers through its Voluntary Counseling & Testing programme. The union also has a 'healthy worker' programme that emphasises that HIV need not be a life sentence and that healthy living combined with antiretrovirals where these are medically-indicated, can ensure a long and quality life for Hiv positive persons.
The new benefit was announced on the eve of World Aids Day.
Deputy General Secretary
If further information is required, kindly contact Andre Kriel on(021) 447 4570.