Is R20 an hour enough?

Parliament passed a National Minimum Wage Bill last month by an overwhelming majority, part of an effort by President Cyril Ramaphosa to tackle strikes and wage inequality.

The Bill will be sent to Parliament’s upper house for ratification and becomes law once it is signed by Ramaphosa.

READ: Minimum wages are effective when economies are growing fast - Dr Iraj Abedian

Supporters say it will reduce inequality and stimulate economic growth while critics say it will lead to increased unemployment.

The minimum wage bill was one of a raft of labour-related bills passed by Parliament. It has drawn criticism from some trade unions worried that policies aimed at preventing prolonged and violent strikes contained in the bills, would dilute worker rights. Thousands protested in April.

To weigh in on the minimum wage, Eusebius McKaiser spoke to MP Democratic Alliance (DA) labour spokesman Michael Bagraim and Sdumo Dlamini speaking as an African National Congress (ANC) NEC member.

Dlamini said the ANC takes this from the Freedom Charter which was adopted and says there shall be a minimum wage.

We have graduated this debate to add that it's going to be a legislated minimum wage because the intention takes consideration that there are many workers in the country whose pay doesn't come anywhere closer to a baseline from which employers cannot go below.

Sdumo Dlamini, ANC NEC member

It has taken the ANC over 22 years to even begin to introduce this debate and when it happened, it happens at a time when huge inequalities exist in our country. To begin to respond to that plight, the national minimum wage is now to be law in this country and to cover almost over six million workers in this country.

Sdumo Dlamini, ANC NEC member

It is not a living wage. It doesn't suggest that people must stop fighting for a living wage or negotiate for a living wage in the bargaining council and anywhere. Trade unions must do that.

Sdumo Dlamini, ANC NEC member

Bagraim says they agree that it is not a living wage, however, the real issue now is in fact jobs and how this Bill might see job losses.

If we don't look at who earns, then we have got a real problem. The real minimum wage, once you introduce the national minimum wage, will be R0 per hour.

Michael Bagraim, DA Labour spokesperson

The Treasury tells us 750 000 job losses, I think they are very conservative. I think its a lot more than that, there are people saying it will over a million job losses. I know already that small businesses are not creating jobs because they are saying they are not going to be able to sustain them in the future.

Michael Bagraim, DA Labour spokesperson

He adds that the real problem today in South Africa is jobs.

Listen below to the full interview about whether R20 an hour is enough:


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