What the proposed national minimum wage means to you

The announcement of the proposed national minimum wage has generated much response on its possible impact on the economy and employment in the country, but what does it really mean for the individual.

Gilad Isaacs, Project Coordinator at the National Minimum Wage Research Initiative at Wits University, says that it is important to consider whether the proposed national minimum wage of R3500 is a viable starting point in efforts to address inequality in the country.

In terms of workers' needs, what we see in South Africa is that the poverty line for the individual is around 1 300 rand. Our study shows that the working-poor line, which is the level at which an average earner needs to earn in order to bring them and their dependents out of poverty is 4 300 rand. A family of four would need around 5 300 rand just to be out of poverty

Gilad Isaacs, Project Coordinator at the National Minimum Wage Research Initiative

The National Minimum Wage Research Initiative has conducted research on how a national minimum wage in South Africa can be successfully implemented and not bring about serious negative economic consequences.

Speaking to #NightTalk's Gugs Mhlungu and Sizwe Dhlomo, Isaacs says that minimum wages have been shown to be an effective tool in reducing inequality.

Issues like transport, healthcare and what other facilities workers have available, are really important when working out workers' needs, and transport is a particularly problematic issue in South Africa because of our dysfunctional spatial geographies

Gilad Isaacs, Project Coordinator at the National Minimum Wage Research Initiative

Isaacs says research on national minimum wage in the country has taken into consideration the daily needs and challenges of workers in the country, and the apartheid legacy in calculating a national minimum wage.

Describing an apartheid legacy in the country's wage structure, Isaacs says that in 2015, South Africa had 5.5 million full time workers earning under the working-poor line.

Minimum wages are precisely to account for that we have an apartheid legacy of an ultra low wage structure

Gilad Isaacs, Project Coordinator at the National Minimum Wage Research Initiative

Listen to the conversation below:

The #NightTalk discussion on the impact of the proposed national minimum wage on individuals drew responses from listeners across the show's platforms:

People who are employing poorer people don't want to just get a figure, they want to get an analysis which makes sense

Paul in Pretoria
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