South Africa to Implement Minimum Wage Despite Opposition

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Enterprise Television- South Africa to Implement Minimum Wage Despite Opposition

South African Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant reaffirmed on Tuesday that the government will implement the National Minimum Wage (NMW) in spite of strong opposition to it.

Some of the propaganda against the NMW is nothing but pure electioneering and attempts to score cheap political points, the minister said in her Budget Vote Speech in Parliament.

Trade unions have lambasted the NMW which they label as “slavery wage.”

On May 1, massive protests against the NMW took place across the country. Trade unions threaten to stage more protests if the NMW is not raised to a living wage.

The government is pushing the NMW, which is 3,500 rand (about 292 U.S. dollars) per month or 20 rand (about 1.7 dollars) per hour for over six million working people.

But opponents say the working class cannot make both ends meet with the meagre NMW.

All social partners have worked hard for nearly three years to reach agreement on the NMW, which will take effect after Parliament finalizes the legal process for its implementation.

Setting the inaugural level at R20 per hour was informed by research and robust analysis of various scenarios and their possible ramifications, the minister said, adding that this level is informed by the real world considerations and not some idealistic desires.

Oliphant said whilst the introduction of the NMW may not mean a lot to those who are well looked after in the world of work, for the majority of the vulnerable workers, it will make a huge difference.

The NMW wage “is by no means an end in itself, but a means to an end,” she noted.

It is ironic that while the legislators are busy doing shadow-boxing on the NMW, a number of progressive employers reportedly have already started adjusting their workers’ wages in anticipation of the NMW becoming a reality, according to the minister.

“It is also heartening that the employers in question are adjusting workers’ wages upwards and not downwards as others would want us to believe,” the minister said.