Following years of consultation and public debate, the South African government has this week announced that nobody who works should ever find themselves living below the poverty line.
As such, a minimum wage of R20 an hour (or ZAR3,500 a month for full time workers) is to be introduced nationwide.
This announcement, which will go a long way to alleviate poverty, is a milestone that should not only be celebrated, but also defended from those who are already fighting against it.
For example, only last week, South Africa’s richest man Christo Wiese, slammed the minimum wage as an “unworkable policy”.
Yet, he failed to provide tangible reasons for this, instead leaning on the empty mantra that as a business man, we should all simply take his word for it.
This week, Finance Minister Gordhan admitted South Africa’s economy was an oligopoly. By definition, oligopolists have plenty of financial room to absorb this minimum wage. An economy with companies perhaps operating at low profit margins – due to intense competition would have more trouble. But, South Africa is not an example of this.
The Minimum Wage is also in line with international best practice – a concept that monopoly/oligopoly capital likes when it suits them, but not when it reduces their fat profits.
So, how else can we defend this milestone from the likes of Christo Wiese? With FACTS! And below is all you need to know.
1. Myth: The National Minimum Wage will destroy jobs for low skilled workers
President Zuma has ordered the establishment of a National Minimum Wage Commission. Their responsibility will be to assess the impact of the minimum wage on the economy, and make recommendations on how to offset unforeseen negative consequences.
Businesses legitimately unable to pay the minimum wage will be able to take advantage of a simple and efficient process to gain exemptions.
2. Myth: People’s working hours will simply be cut
Under President Zuma’s plans, no employer will be able to unilaterally cut an employee’s working hours. This includes workers in private contracts, sectorial determinations or collective agreements. Doing so will constitute non-compliance and unfair labour practice.
3. Myth: South Africa’s private sector cannot accommodate this right now
The minimum wage does not take effect until May 1st 2018. This allows the private sector up to 15 months to make preparations.
In addition, start-ups launching between now and May 2018 will be offered additional assistance to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
4. What does this mean for domestic workers and agricultural labourers
Domestic workers will be entitled to be paid 75% of the minimum wage whilst agricultural labourers will be entitled to 90% of the minimum wage. However, this is only for a transition period of two years, following which the commission will reassess the timeframe.
If you agree with President Zuma that no one who works should ever have to live in poverty, let us know!
SPEAK UP! Let everyone know what you think – Comment below. Always. Tweet us @Voetsek_SA, or Like us on Facebook.