The National Minimum Wage Bill was passed by the National Assembly at the end of May, in a bid to tackle wage inequality in South Africa.
Once approved by the National Council of Provinces (NCOPs), the Bill will be signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He has called the Bill a foundation onto which the fight for a living wage would be built. The minimum wage is set at R20 per hour in the main industries with the minimum rate for farm workers is R18 per hour while domestic workers must be paid R15 or more an hour.
Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant, who described the Bill as ‘ground-breaking’, also presented two other amended labour bills to the National Assembly – the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill – both of which were also passed.
The Minister said that the National Minimum Wage Bill is a direct response to the call made in the 1955 Freedom Charter and a first since the dawn of South Africa's democracy.
She explained that the Bills capture the agreements reached by social partners on measures to strengthen labour stability, collective bargaining and the implementation of the first national minimum wage.
Minimum wage gets a thumb up
*Dorris Khambule a domestic worker in Carletonville in Johannesburg expressed that she is thankful for the minimum wage and trusts that it will change the plight of her family.
“I’m honestly looking forward to getting the new minimum wage and I feel that it will go a long way towards bettering our lives.
“Once passed into law, I’ll definitely be in a better position to look after my family and put on food on the table.”
Khambule said she hopes that the minimum wage will also better the dynamics for domestic workers throughout who are overworked.
“I must say that I am pleased that Government decided to look into ways to pay us better this shows that our trade is being taken seriously,” said Khambule.
The evolving minimum wage
South Africa has seen the minimum wage evolved over the years in a quest to bridge the gap between the rich and poor while also giving workers’ rights to basic wages.
- 2001- The South African minimum wages were set at R800 for those workers in areas of the country where average household income is more than R24 000 per annum and at R650 for those where average household income is less than R24 000 per annum.
- 2003- The a new minimum wages for farm workers was revised and stood at R1041 per month. In urban areas the minimum wage was R1041-00 but rural areas the minimum wage was R989.
- 2009 –The minimum wage for farm workers stood at R6.31 or R1 231 monthly.
- 2010 –The minimum wage for farm workers increased R674 or R1316 monthly.
- 2014 –Minimum wages for domestic workers in major metropolitan areas stood at R12.40 hourly, weekly R334.74 and monthly R1 450.33. Those not working in major metros would receive an hourly rate of R10.98, weekly R296.35, and monthly R1 284.09.
* Dorris Khambule is not her real name she chooses to remain anonymous due to fear of being victimised by her employer.