Ramaphosa full of praise for Cosatu
DEPUTY President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday told a gathering of Cosatu’s Central Committee that the pending implementation of the national minimum wage should be marked as a new chapter in the trade federation’s annals.
Ramaphosa told delegates at Cosatu’s midterm policy review meeting in Irene, Pretoria, that although the trade federation’s proposal for a R4 500 per month national minimum wage was not accepted at the negotiations at the National Economic Development and Labour Council ( Nedlac), Cosatu should mark the implementation of South Africa’s R3 500 per month wage limit below which no worker should be paid as a milestone.
“Despite what a number of detractors may argue, the agreement on the national minimum wage was a victory for workers in our country.
“It is also a great victory for Cosatu, which has been in the forefront of this struggle, and which was central in achieving this agreement.
“It is a landmark agreement unprecedented in the history of this country. Once again Cosatu was able to lead the country in an unprecedented move to have a national minimum wage,” Ramaphosa said.
This comes as the government has given itself a deadline of 2018 to send the agreed R20 per hour minimum wage through a legislative process that will result in its implementation.
Ramaphosa took a moment to praise Cosatu leaders for their enduring patience during the national minimum wage negotiations at Nedlac.
“If truth be told, it was Cosatu that led the negotiations on the national minimum wage.
“They knew they carried this heavy burden on their shoulders to come up with a minimum wage that will be meaningful in the lives of 6 million workers.
“You should not be ashamed to claim this victory. I know you wanted R4 500. You did not get R4 500, we got almost R4 000. Nobody ever gets everything that they want in negotiations but you must claim this victory. This victory belongs to you, it does not belong to other people.
“I know other comrades have doubt. I know you are being rubbished by people who say the wage should be R12 500. Little do they know if it was R12 500, we would have wiped out more than 10 million jobs in South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa also reflected on his former days as a National Union of Mineworkers ( NUM) general secretary. He said that it was at the NUM that his mettle as a leader was tested.
“I cut my teeth on public life issues in the trade union. The NUM, I’m a product of the NUM. The NUM fashioned me to be what I am.
“And it was through the NUM and the experience that I gained there that today I am the type of person that I am.”
MEETING: Delegates attending the second day of Cosatu’s central committee meeting yesterday.