R3,500 minimum wage a launching pad to improve wage equality – Ramaphosa

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says once implemented, the National Minimum Wage will improve the welfare of the lowest paid in South Africa.

Ramaphosa  was speaking before the National Assembly on Wednesday to field oral questions from members of Parliament.

This was the Deputy President’s last question and answer session this year.

“Once implemented, the National Minimum Wage will significantly improve the position of the lowest paid workers in our country.

“Currently, up to 47% of working people in our country earn below R3,500. Fifty percent of the people working in our country also earn below R4,000.

“If we have a minimum wage that can be agreed upon by our social partners at Nedlac, we will have a radical shift with regards to addressing the issue of wage inequality in our country,” he said.

United Democratic Movement caucus leader Bantu Holomisa had asked the Deputy President if the proposed National Minimum Wage will cover all workers, particularly those that get exploited by employers in the hospitality and agriculture industry.

Last month, a panel of experts that was appointed to deliberate on the National Minimum Wage recommended R3,500 a month, or R20 per hour.

The Deputy President said South Africa’s labour laws cover all employees in South Africa regardless of their nationality and where they come from.

“Where an employment relationship exists, all the rights and obligations enjoyed by South Africans, particularly workers in this case… also apply to foreign nationals who are working in our country.

“There are currently sectoral wage determinations that prescribe conditions of employment and minimum wages for the hospitality and agricultural sectors, should any employer pay wages that are below what is prescribed in the sectoral determinations.

“Before a foreign national can be employed, an employer needs to secure a work permit for a foreign national employee. However, an employer can apply for a work permit for a foreign national in instances where a prospective employee possesses a scarce skill that is not available in our market,” he said.

Social partners at Nedlac are currently engaged in deliberations on the recommendations that were put forward by the advisory panel on the National Minimum Wage.

He said once an agreement has been reached on the level at which this minimum wage will be set, it will cover all employees in the country regardless of their nationality.

“Employers who do not comply, whether their employees are South African or whether they come from other countries, will face penalties.

“The National Minimum Wage should in the end not be seen as a recommended wage. It is a wage which forms the floor below which no employee may be paid in South Africa.

“Once implemented, the National Minimum Wage will significantly improve the position of the lowest paid workers in our country.

“This minimum wage would in so many ways begin to lift as many people as 6.5 million South Africans who are currently labouring below what I would call wage poverty.

“Once this is done, it is a start that can be seen as a launching pad to improve wage equality in our country and to begin to not only deal with wage inequality, but poverty,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

Read: What unskilled workers in South Africa earn vs national minimum wage

 

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R3,500 minimum wage a launching pad to improve wage equality – Ramaphosa