The South African government is set to implement a national minimum wage in 2016; and is currently seeking council on what that amount should be.
Petrol attendants form one part of the service industry who rely heavily on tips to boost their relatively low wages.
South Africa is one of the more unique countries in that it does not have self-service fuel options at petrol stations, relying on attendants to service customers, and handle transactions.
According to the Fuel Retailer’s Association, petrol stations employ around 70,000 people across the country.
Previous reports on petrol attendants stated that most are young men, with an average age of 27. More than half had worked in the same position for in excess of five years, while individual salaries can reach R9,000 per month, depending on which company they work for.
According to the wage schedule for the motor industry, petrol attendants’ minimum wage is set at R22.75 per hour, or R1,024 per week (roughly R4,100 a month).
These wages have been set to August 2016.
While tipping petrol attendants is not compulsory, the practice has become customary in South Africa as the workers perform many “complimentary” services.
Currently, wage regulation in South Africa takes place through collective bargaining and direct regulation of pay for vulnerable workers via the sectoral determinations.
The average minimum wage is a monthly sum of R2,731.74 across all the private-sector bargaining councils; and in the region of R2,362.36 across all the sectoral determinations.
Union Cosatu has called for a national minimum wage of between R4,500 and R6,000 to be set for workers in South Africa. This echoes the call from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to establish a national minimum wage of R4,500 in 2016.
The DA meanwhile, says that while it is not against minimum wages, it needs to be sector specific to avoid job losses.
Economist Mike Schüssler says that South Africa’s formal sector is already paying well above the minimum wage as the department of labour debates the level at which it should be set.
In an opinion article on MoneyWeb, Schüssler, who is an economist at Economist.co.za, pointed to research indicating a median wage in the formal sector of approximately R5,100 per month.
This, he noted, is above a median figure of R4,800 per month cited by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) in its Labour Force Survey (LFS), with additional research showing that the median wage could be closer to R8,134.