Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the national minimum wage has been set at R20 per hour or R3 500 a month for those who work a 40-hour week.
Those who work a 45-hour week will have their minimum wage set at R3 900.
The Deputy President said the new minimum wage will come into effect on 1 May 2018.
“The national minimum wage, which is a floor below which no worker will be paid, will significantly improve the lives of millions of low-paid workers and begin to address the challenge of wage inequality in our country.
“At its introduction next year, South Africa will join several countries around the world that have implemented a national minimum wage as an instrument of economic as well as social development,” he said.
The Deputy President said social partners representing organised labour and civic society organisations at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) signed agreements on measures to strengthen labour stability as well as to deepen the process of collective bargaining, as well as the modalities to introduce the national minimum wage.
The agreements represent a significant advance “in our efforts as a nation and as people to address the challenges of wage inequality in our country as well as stabilising the labour market”.
He said the agreements also power up the momentum to tackle inequality and poverty.
The agreements restore the dignity of all poor South Africans.
The Deputy President said 6.6 million workers were surviving on a living wage of under R3 500 and that there is a need to begin a journey of improving the income of low-paid workers.
“What we arrived at in terms of the national minimum wage is not a living wage. This forms a firm foundation of moving our country towards a living wage. It is a start. These agreements are a result of nearly two years of deliberations.
“They are a response by the call that was made by President Zuma”.
He said companies that cannot afford the national minimum wage can apply for exemption from government.
The Deputy President also said the minimum wage would be evaluated from time to time to assess its impact on jobs.