While a reported 84.5% of South African workers earn a regular wage or salary, are we earning enough to cover for rising living costs and a potentially imminent recession?
A recent report by financial services firm, PwC noted that South Africa is considering the introduction of a national minimum wage – but for now its framework for minimum wage regulation is set by the Labour Relations Act (no 66 of 1995) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (no 75 of 1997, as amended).
Globally, 155 countries have determined minimum wages on a national or sector basis. At least 52% of these countries have not adjusted their minimum wages for at least two years, said Economists.co.za.
An additional 41 countries do not have a determined national minimum wage, but like South Africa and Italy, have sectorial minimum wages, said economist Mike Schussler.
South Africa’s current Wage Acts establish two main mechanisms for wage determination:
- Collective bargaining, including through statutory institutions (bargaining councils); and
- Sectoral determinations that are published by the Minister of Labour and that set minimum wages for an economic sector.
The Labour Relations Act provides the framework within which employees and their trade unions and employers and related organisations can bargain collectively to determine wages and other conditions of employment, PwC said.
The Act also has as one of its purposes the promotion of collective bargaining at a sectoral level.
Wage regulation in South Africa, therefore, takes place through collective bargaining and direct regulation of pay for vulnerable workers via the sectoral determinations.
Currently, the average minimum wage is:
- A monthly wage of R2,731.74 across all the private-sector bargaining councils; and
- In the region of R2,362.36 across all the sectoral determinations.
When compared to emerging market countries, South African minimum wages fall mainly in the upper ranges, said Economists.co.za.
“On a purchase power parity basis even domestic workers get a minimum wage similar to that of China while gold miners earn a minimum wage that compares favourably with Poland, Turkey, Japan, Spain and even Israel,” it said.
Recent data showed that South Africa has in excess of one million domestic workers, accounting for more than 8% of the total workforce of the country.
Data collected by the Economists.co.za on minimum wage in SA revealed the following: