Minimum wage first step to living wage - Ramaphosa

Mar 01 2017 21:09
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – In addition to a National Minimum Wage, government will also consider the possibility of negotiating comprehensive social security in future, said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday. 

Responding to oral questions in the National Assembly, Ramaphosa elaborated on the signing of a national minimum wage agreement recently of R20 per hour which will translate into a monthly wage of about R3 500 for those working 40 hours a week and about R3 900 for those who work 45 hours a week.

Ramaphosa said the agreement was signed by all the social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), bar labour union federation Cosatu, which argued that it needed to report back to its Central Executive Committee (CEC) before signing it. 

READ: R20 per hour minimum wage is ridiculous - Cosatu 

Ramaphosa told MPs that one of the social partners said to him during the negotiations that he would like to see government on a journey of negotiating “comprehensive social security” for poor South Africans. 

“This will improve the income of 50% of the working population’s income,” Ramaphosa said. “It will lay the foundation for progress towards a living wage for all. But what we have done in the meantime, is to set a floor below which no South African should ever be paid. We hope it will have an impact on income inequality and lift people out of income poverty.” 
Ramaphosa said several measures were agreed upon by the social partners to ensure that the introduction of the national minimum wage does not have a negative effect on the viability of businesses or employment.

READ: The National Minimum Wage: where to from here?  

“Businesses that are unable to afford the national minimum wage may apply for an exemption for up to 12 months. Any fragile sectors that are having difficulty in complying with the national minimum wage will be considered for assistance within the available means, including through incentives.”
A National Minimum Wage Commission will be established to recommend annual adjustments to the level of the national minimum wage. The national minimum wage will also be regularly reviewed by the Commission taking into account the impact of the level of the minimum wage on employment, poverty and inequality.
In addition, as is the practice in the development of new legislation, government will conduct a socio-economic impact assessment ahead of the finalisation of a new National Minimum Wage Bill.
The introduction of a national minimum wage in South Africa is historic, Ramaphosa said, and sets the stage for a far more concerted national effort to defeat poverty, by establishing a foundation for progress towards the realisation of a living wage for all.

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