STATEMENT OF SACBC JUSTICE AND PEACE COMMISSION ON THE COMMENCEMENT OF NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE ACT ON 1st JANUARY 2019.
We have taken note of the recent announcement by the President that the National Minimum. Wage Act will take effect on 1st January 2019. We applaud the President and the cabinet for taking the first step towards addressing wage disparities and the plight of the working poor.
As the implementation of the National Minimum Wage Act commences next year, we appeal to the department of labour to continue engagement with various formations of vulnerable workers, especially with respect to the following concerns that they raised during the drafting of the Act:
First, there are doubts on the extent to which the national minimum wage will achieve its objective of R3500 a month. National minimum wage envisages that vulnerable workers would earn R3500 a month. To be able to earn R3500 a month, a vulnerable worker would need to work 40 hours a week. A large percent of the vulnerable workers work less than 40 hours a week and would not therefore earn R3500 a month when the National Minimum.Wage Act takes effect next year.
Second, enforcement issues are still outstanding. CCMA lacks adequate capacity to meet the rising demand for their services, including enforcement of National Minimum wage. Additionally, the financial and geographical access to CCMA offices and the Labour Department continues to be a problem especially for the working poor in rural provinces.
Third, the National Minimum Wage and the Sectoral Determination regime do not have adequate measures to deal with employers who act in bad faith in vulnerable sectors. Such
employers always find tactical ways of eroding the gains from new wage levels. In some sectors, the employers have already announced to the workers that they intend to reduce
their working hours to a level below 40 hours a week. Other employers especially farmers have announced that, in 2019, they will increase the amount that they charge for electricity,
water and loan interest etc. Both practices will erode the gains derived from the national minimum wage and the wage levels in sectoral determination.
Fourth, the debate about national minimum wage is at times diverting attention from an important debate about living wage. The living wage differs from statutory minimum wage
in that its determination prioritizes the basic needs of the working poor and the cost of basic standard of living, and not only the demands of the labour market. A living wage ensures
that the working poor can earn enough to realize a decent and dignified living.
We call upon the various formations of vulnerable workers, government, and the unions to meet and seek decisive solutions to the above-mentioned challenges.
For more information:
Bishop Abel Gabuza.
Cell number: 0825494324
Phone number: 053 831 1861 or 053 831 1862.
Archbishop William Slattery: Cell: 0834685473