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Minimum wage not even enough for Ramaphosa's dog - Numsa

Feb 05 2017 15:08
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – The national minimum wage of R3 500 that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is proposing is not even enough for his dog to survive on, said Irvin Jim, metalworker union Numsa's General Secretary. 

Speaking at a shop steward council meeting held in Johannesburg over the weekend, Jim said “to make matters worse” Ramaphosa is also imposing limitations on the right to strike, which include balloting before a strike and compulsory arbitration to end strikes.

Ramaphosa made the proposal for a minimum wage in November last year at a media conference held at the offices of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). 

He argued that a minimum wage will be a radical shift to address wage inequality in South Africa, as an estimate of between 6 million and 7 million people in South Africa are earning less than R3 500 and in many ways a minimum wage will lift as many as those out of poverty.

Numsa, however, hit back, saying the proposed amount is a “slave wage”. 

READ: Stinging attack on Ramaphosa over 'slave wages' 

“All these things are happening because unions, such as Numsa have not organised the majority of the South African working class into militant and revolutionary trade unions to protect the working class,” Jim said at the shop steward meeting. 

According to him, unions only protect 76% of the South African working class and even those who are protected by unions suffer from “apartheid colonial wages” and are exposed to racism in the workplace on a daily basis. 

“Women, in particular African women,” Jim said, “carry the triple burden of oppression. Twenty-two years into democracy, and black women are still employed in the lowest paying, least skilled jobs. That’s why it is a priority for unions to focus on women and eliminating injustice in the work place, once and for all.”

He added that the advent of "Brexit" (when Britons voted in favour of leaving the European Union in June last year) and "Trumpism" (the election of Donald Trump as US President in November last year)” means that the time for “moaning is over”. 

READ: Brexit-Trump: Unholy alliance of big business, banks, politics coming to an end 

“We must act now. We need to be united as workers, regardless of where we come from on the continent. It’s time for workers to wake up and realise that cultural differences are tools which are used to divide us.

"The bosses know that if we are divided, and fight among ourselves, we will never defeat them. We must remember that we are all workers, and our struggle for equality is a universal one. It is upon this basis that we should unite,” Jim said. 

"We must organise now, or starve." 

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

numsa  |  cyril rama­phosa  |  irvin jim  |  minimum wage  |  workers


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