Calls mount for guaranteed minimum wage

2015-02-24 06:30 - Terry Bell
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Cape Town - As the 2015 budget announcement nears, there is an increasing clamour from trade unions and human rights groups for a guaranteed minimum wage and social welfare net. The minimum wage demands so far registered range from R4 000 to R8 000.

Trade unions such as the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) this week called on Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to ensure a minimum wage of R4 000 a month, an amount other groups categorised as a “poverty wage”.  Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, for example, maintained that R4 000 was inadequate to provide even a balanced, adequate diet for a family of five.

READ: Ramaphosa: Don't fear minimum wage

On Monday, the authoritative Pietermartizburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) entered the fray arguing for a minimum income of R8 000 for a family of five. Pacsa, which does a monthly check on food prices and calculates the cost of an adequate diet for a range of family sizes, taking account ages and nutritional requirements, maintains that R8 000 is now a basic requirement.  

Welfare grants

Averaging the costs of everything from transport (R660 a month) to municipal services (R1 168.40), clothing and footwear (R416), hygiene items (R31.43) to education (R500), together with the cost of a basic, but adequate diet, Pacsa estimates the monthly cost for a family of five at R6 687.12. An R8 000 income would leave R1 312.88 for contingencies.

On the basis of its research, Pacsa is calling on Nene to increase the child support grant for children under age nine from R320 to R487 and for older children from R517 to R615. The R615 grant, Pacsa argues, should also be given to all pregnant women “to ensure the health of the child in utero”.

Old age pensions should receive a more than 100% boost to R2 700 a month.

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