Politics & Policies

Minimum wage in South Africa – Not a living wage

On Wednesday, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU)—which represents 30 unions with around 800,000 members—organized marches in six South African cities with thousands of participants protesting the government’s proposed minimum wage legislation. The current minimum wage proposal, which was approved by the cabinet in November 2017, calls for a 20 rand (R) ($1.60) an hour minimum wage. President Cyril Ramaphosa has argued that the current proposal will help reduce wage inequality. However, his spokesperson, Khusela Diko, has stated, “The president recognizes that the national minimum wage is not a living wage, but we need to start somewhere.”

Although the R20 minimum wage was meant to be introduced on May 1, 2018, a parliamentary committee recently sent the bill back to the labor ministry for re-drafting. Wednesday’s protesters called the current proposal “an insult” and “starvation wages,” arguing that the minimum wage be raised to R12,500 a month—nearly triple the proposed R20 hourly wage in monthly terms. Proponents of the current proposal, however, argue that raising the wage to a significantly higher level could lead to higher unemployment, as employers would cut jobs in order to meet the higher wage requirements. On Thursday, Ramaphosa met with officials from the labor ministry to discuss the wage policy and timeline for its introduction. A labor ministry spokesperson, Teboho Thejane, stated that officials are still working to finalize the minimum wage legislation with lawmakers by August.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Africa in the news: Minimum wage in South Africa, protests in Madagascar, and fuel crisis in Sudan

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