Labour depart­ment min­i­mum wage lim­its

CityPress - - Business - – De­wald van Rens­burg

This week, new re­search com­mis­sioned by the depart­ment of labour pre­sented R3 400 per month as an “em­pir­i­cally rea­son­able up­per-limit es­ti­mate” of what the promised na­tional min­i­mum wage could be.

At the low end, the re­port pro­poses R2 447 per month as a rea­son­able as­sump­tion.

The up­per limit is equal to the me­dian wage in South Africa, while the lower one is the me­dian of the min­i­mum wages al­ready in place through the sec­toral de­ter­mi­na­tion sys­tem.

The re­port was pro­duced for govern­ment by the Univer­sity of Cape Town’s De­vel­op­ment Pol­icy Re­search Unit.

The re­search unit doesn’t specif­i­cally en­dorse a level, but presents this as the prob­a­ble range within which a wage could get set.

Other re­search units, par­tic­u­larly at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, have taken se­ri­ously the pos­si­bil­ity of min­i­mum wages as high as R4 500 and above – echo­ing labour union de­mands.

Th­ese num­bers as­sume that the worker in ques­tion works 195 hours a month – nine hours a day, ev­ery week­day.

In hourly terms, the range trans­lates to be­tween R12.55 and R17.44 an hour.

The re­search unit also in­ter­viewed a num­ber of cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers of the Em­ploy­ment Con­di­tions Com­mis­sion, which cur­rently sets the sec­toral de­ter­mi­na­tion wages.

The com­mis­sion­ers “unan­i­mously” agreed that min­i­mum wages should be set in the way they cur­rently are – with ex­perts sit­ting along­side rep­re­sen­ta­tives of labour and busi­ness. Unions have been push­ing for the even­tual min­i­mum wage not to be set by a tech­no­cratic com­mit­tee.

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