Busi­ness no-show raises hack­les

Non-at­ten­dance at sym­po­sium hints at deep divi­sions within Ned­lac amid stake­hold­ers’ ac­cu­sa­tions of sidelin­ing

CityPress - - Business -

“Why, when ex­perts present ev­i­dence, are peo­ple so adamant that there must be some other ev­i­dence of cat­a­clysmic em­ploy­ment ef­fects? This is the ev­i­dence,” Isaacs said at the sym­po­sium.

The prob­lem seems to be that re­search largely ap­proaches the goal of the min­i­mum wage as the eradication of work­ing poverty and takes se­ri­ously the pos­si­bil­ity of min­i­mum wages as high as R6 000 a month.

What­ever is be­ing said at Ned­lac, the govern­ment shows no sign of want­ing to rad­i­cally raise ex­ist­ing min­i­mum wages, much less com­pletely negate them with a far higher new na­tional min­i­mum.

This week, the depart­ment of labour an­nounced it would in­stead re­duce the an­nual in­crease for farm work­ers.

This was to help the drought-stricken farm­ing sec­tor, the depart­ment said, adding farm­ers should ap­ply for ex­emp­tions.

In­stead of the 8% the nor­mal in­fla­tion-linked for­mula would have given them, the depart­ment raised min­i­mum wages on farms by only 6.6%.

This brings farm wages to R14.25 an hour, up from R13.30 an hour.

A monthly wage of R4 500 would trans­late into R23.26 an hour.

The do­mes­tic worker min­i­mum wages were raised late last year to R11.44 an hour (up from R10.59), equal to R2 230 on a full-time ba­sis – as­sum­ing a worker works nine hours a day, five days a week ev­ery week.

The least dis­rup­tive and con­sis­tent level to in­tro­duce a na­tional min­i­mum wage would log­i­cally be at this level – re­tain­ing the sec­toral de­ter­mi­na­tions, but plug­ging the holes in that sys­tem that leave mil­lions of work­ers with no wage-set­ting mech­a­nism.

Ac­cord­ing to Phala “we sup­port the in­tro­duc­tion of a na­tional min­i­mum wage to ad­dress ul­tralow wages”.

“We have agreed on the def­i­ni­tion of a na­tional min­i­mum wage. We are ex­plor­ing pos­si­ble op­tions and we be­lieve such op­tions should be tested against the so­cial, eco­nomic and par­tic­u­larly em­ploy­ment im­pli­ca­tions.”

PHOTO: LERATO MADUNA

EK­ING OUT A LIV­ING The min­i­mum wage be­ing dis­cussed is meant to pro­tect farm work­ers, like Jonathan Arendse (right) and oth­ers who are most vul­ner­a­ble, against eco­nomic ex­ploita­tion

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