There have been mixed reactions from workers as the National Minimum Wage Act takes effect from Tuesday. It provides for a minimum wage of R20 per hour. It is expected to affect approximately 6 million workers across the country.
The implementation date of the National Minimum Wage Act kicks in today. The law makes provision for workers to be paid a minimum wage of R20 per hour. Farm workers will receive R18 per hour — while domestic workers will get a minimum wage of R15 per hour and the extended public worker employees will be paid R11 per hour.
David Thambisa has been a petrol attendant for more than 11 years. He earns just under five thousand rand per month. Thambisa says while the minimum wage of over 3 500 rand per month is not enough, it is a good starting point for lowly paid workers.
“Mostly people that are working in these shops like Shoprite and all those shops, most of them they get less or exactly that three point five. That would be good if the government can put it at around four point five of so if will be very good.”
Another petrol attendant, Tonderai Mathanga, who has been in the job for two years has welcomed the minimum wage.
“I think it’s a very good thing. I think it’s going to help the lives of the people. People can’t afford a lot of things. Now if they get a bit more that can also raise their standard of living as well.”
Workers in the cleaning service, however, have mixed feelings about the minimum wage.
“It’s too small. It should start at least at four thousand per month,” says one worker. Another one says, “It’s good to start with R3500, because we have lot of problems so you need more money. It’s a good starting point but it should have been more but it’s fine when its three point five.”
During a debate on the legislation in the National Assembly in June last year, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant described the National Minimum Wage Bill as a milestone and the direct response to the Freedom Charter which called for a minimum wage in 1955.
“This bill seeks to improve the lives of the lowest paid workers in the labour market and carries the promise of addressing the inequality challenge in South Africa and by extension poverty. The bill established the National Minimum Wage Commission,- the statutory wage minimum level and the exemption fro those who cannot afford. The National Minimum wage will take over the functions of the current Employment Commission. The commission will also recommend annual adjustment to the level of the National Minimum Wage and review it on a regular basis in order to take into account the impact of employment on the level of poverty and inequality.”
Parliament’s Labour Committee Chairperson Lemias Mashile has called on all employers to comply with the National Minimum Wage Act. He has additionally called on unions to ensure that workers’ rights are protected.
Mashile says the committee hopes that the national minimum wage will improve pay for all vulnerable workers.
“And we therefore call upon all the unions to really inform themselves of the the provisions of this ACT as well as the regulations to assist in the interpretation of the minimum wage in order for them to continue and protect the rights of the workers in the workplace. And we do call upon all the employers that are affected by this national minimum wage to really comply with the requirements of the ACT in terms of the provisions that seek to improve the social relations at the workplace as well as socio-economic relations at the workplace. We do hope that the implementation of this ACT will bring harmony and improvement of these relations at the workplace.”