'Key elements in the 2017 agreement were not taken forward in minimum wage bill'

There has been mixed reaction to the passing of the controversial national minimum wage bill with the South African Federation of Trade Union (Saftu) saying it will intensify its fight against the minimum wage of R3,500 per month or R20 an hour.

Members of Parliament on Tuesday passed the bill following months of discussions and public hearings.

Co-director of the newly-established Institute for Economic Justice Neil Coleman was the labour's lead negotiator between 2015 and 2017 at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

He says the initial package tried to ensure that there would be an effective mechanism to ensure that the value and impact of the national minimum wage progressively improves over time and reduces wage inequality.

He says however changes were made which failed to incorporate critical elements in the drafting of the bill.

That history is very important. We arrived at a package which was negotiated with the deputy president at the time at the head of what was called the committee of principles. That package was finalised in February 2017 and was supposed to be translated into legislation.

Neil Coleman, Co-director of the newly-established Institute for Economic Justice

Unfortunately that was left to the department of labor to do and when they came with legislation in May we were quite shocked to see that key elements of the package were not present and new elements which were not considered in negotiations - in particular the proposed scrapping of the sectoral determinations...

Neil Coleman, Co-director of the newly-established Institute for Economic Justice

That is water under the bridge and what had happened was the department said time is up, we will just have to agree to disagree and you will have to fight this out in the parliamentary process.

Neil Coleman, Co-director of the newly-established Institute for Economic Justice

He continues to raise some of what was left out in the 2017 negotiations and agreement.

The sectoral determination was one issue, another issue was the question of the annual increases in the national minimum wage which is agreed would keep pace with inflation that has been taken out of the legislation in its original form. The second issue was that we insert a medium term target.

Neil Coleman, Co-director of the newly-established Institute for Economic Justice

Click on the link below to listen to the full discussion....


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