The minister of labour, Thulas Nxesi, has gazetted South Africa’s new minimum wage which will take effect from 1 March 2020.
The gazette states that the new national minimum wage is R20.76 – an increase of 3.8%. This is well below the desired increase of R22.50 which had previously been floated by the country’s major unions.
The unions argued that the level of R20 per hour was settled at back in 2017, when the NMW was first tabled, and it has not changed since then – even while the cost of living in the country continued to rise and the economy deteriorated.
As with the original minimum wage introduced on 1 January 2019, the gazette also outlines the minimum wage for workers in certain sectors.
- Farmworkers are entitled to a minimum wage of R18.68 per hour;
- Domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R15.57 per hour;
- Workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to a minimum wage of R11.42 per hour.
South Africa officially introduced a national minimum wage in January 2019 to protect workers from “unreasonably low wages” and promote collective bargaining.
While the minimum wage, originally set at R20 per hour for most workers in the country, has undoubtedly benefited a large portion of the country’s workforce by elevating their take-home pay at the end of each week or month, researchers note that it has done little to stamp out poverty, or give those workers a dignified life.
The National Minimum Wage Act empowers the National Minimum Wage Commission to assess and review the wage each year. This means that the wage is likely to be reviewed again in the coming years.