June 2018 1st Edition

Minimum Wage Bill passed

Written by Jauhara Khan
The passing of the National Minimum Wage Bill, which will ensure that employees are paid a decent wage and protected against exploitation in the workplace, has been hailed a victory for workers across South Africa.

The bill was approved during the plenary sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday 30 May, along with the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, the Labour Relations Amendment Bill and the Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill.

According to the Department of Labour, more than six million workers are expected to benefit from the National Minimum Wage once it signed as a law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The bill proposes that the National Minimum Wage level be set at R20 per hour while the minimum wages for domestic and farm workers will initially be set at R15 and R18 an hour respectively.

The bill will go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

According to a parliament statement, the bill will ensure that the pervasive, entrenched exploitation of workers in various sectors of the economy is halted.

News on the passing of the bill, however, was met with little joy by some workers.

A security guard employed by a private company spoke to Vuk’uzenzele on condition of anonymity.

She said that she currently earned a little over R19 an hour already and did not receive any benefits, so the minimum wage would not make much difference.

“I work from 6AM to 6PM. That is 12 hours a day. We work abnormal hours, longer hours than most people. R20 is just not enough for us,” she said.

With children and spouses to look after, travel expenses, medical bills and other debts to pay, she was not coping financially.

“We are working under extremely stressful conditions. We wake up at 2AM to be here by 6AM. We get home late and have limited time with our families. We are denied lunch breaks.

“We are also doing the work of police officers. We work with criminals, and we have to guard over large amounts of money. We are working in dangerous conditions just like the police, but we are not appreciated and paid enough for the work we do,” she said.

She suggested that a minimum wage ranging from R5 500 to R7000 a month would be of greater help in covering her expenses.

“Our employers have not spoken to us about the minimum wage and what will happen. Every year we go to the CCMA and we negotiate our wage increase, but we don’t get what we ask for and our supervisors don’t fight for us. I pray and beg that we will be heard and be paid properly one day,” she said.

But other workers have welcomed the introduction of a higher minimum wage which has been planned by government for some time.

On Twitter, Commander in Chief Moscow (@moscow_monyeki) said, “There are people who used to get or even now are getting less than R20 per hour, so let's give it a chance and we will judge if it fails. Some are happy about this minimum wage.”

Bulelani Mbovu‏ (@bujeroSA) also shared a positive outlook on the bill.

“I’m happy that the National Assembly has agreed and endorsed the minimum wage bill. This is indeed the start we need. We must, however, continue to pursue a living wage.”

The National Minimum Wage Bill was introduced in November last year by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and it aims to improve the wages of the lowest paid workers.

The bill would be supported by the Labour Relations Bill, which would address strikes and strengthen collective bargaining.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Bill would be the basis behind the setting up of a National Minimum Wage Commission, which would review the minimum wage annually and enforce it in the workplace.



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