Johannesburg – The report of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) advisory panel on a national minimum wage, which has proposed a figure of R3 500 a month and R20 an hour, was welcomed by some but rejected by others on Sunday.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa released the report at a media briefing in Johannesburg, but said the proposed figure still had to be discussed and debated by stakeholders before a final amount was decided on.
The National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc) welcomed the announcement, saying Nafcoc in principle supported the idea of a minimum wage as an instrument to combat poverty and inequality.
“We are pleased that some special consideration have been given (to) sectors like domestic and farm workers. We will persuade the principals to extend this concession and exemption to small and informal businesses. We need to lessen the burden of compliance to the SMME sector who still bear the brunt of repressive and anti-business laws to this day,” said Nafcoc president Lawrence Mavundla.
Nafcoc chief economist Landiwe Mahlangu said Nafcoc believed that while the minimum wage was a necessary tool, it was by no means sufficient to combat poverty and inequality. “A number of complementary policy tools need to be deployed to deal with poverty and effective interventions must be mounted to alleviate the plight of the vulnerable section of our society,” he said.
On the other hand, the Economic Freedom Fighters rejected the proposal, saying it “favours business at the expense of workers”.
“The proposal will not lead to the desired resolution of the problem of inequality, instead it is going to institutionalise these inequalities at low poverty wages,” said EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
“The EFF, following proposals by worker organisations like Cosatu, had tabled a minimum wage of R4 500 to Parliament based on figures from 2014, which is two years ago. Since then (two years later), inflation has increased by more than six percent. This means the initial R4 500 proposal by workers/labour should now be set at about R5 000.”
Any minimum wage below R4 500 would not make any difference to the lives of workers or the resolution of inequality in wages and actual living conditions, he said.
African National Congress spokesman Zizi Kodwa said: “We believe this goes a long way to giving effect to the electoral mandate to the ANC government to introduce a national minimum wage.”
“The recommendations contained in the panel’s report are sound, credible, and clearly supported by clear evidence, including technical submissions made by organised business, organised labour, government, and community constituencies,” Kodwa said.
Now that a quantum had been proposed, Nedlac constituencies needed to have an opportunity to engage with the proposals contained in the report, including the proposed level of the national minimum wage.
“The ANC is also particularly pleased that Nedlac is about to finalise a package of measures to reduce prolonged and violent strikes. These are all important interventions meant to stabilise our economy and help us create jobs as envisaged in the nine-point plan,” Kodwa said.
In a brief statement, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it had noted the announcement on the proposed national minimum wage.
“The NUM is not in a position to accept or reject the national minimum wage proposal. The NUM will pronounce its decision during the upcoming extended national executive committee meeting on the 23rd to 26th of November 2016.”
AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY