‘Hollow wage’ for drivers
Minimum not paid
PAYMENT of the minimum wage in the taxi industry is largely a pipe dream for drivers, despite the Labour Department stipulating new pay scales each year.
Minister Mildred Oliphant has announced an increased minimum wage for the sector. According to her, pay to taxi drivers should move to R3 413.26 from R3 207.95 a month. This equates to R16. 41 per hour, up from the current R15.42.
Wages to rank marshals should increase to R2 728.45 from R2 564.33. The Labour Department has been specifying the minimum wage in the taxi industry since 2005, setting it at R1 350 that year.
It was agreed after talks that dragged on for six years between the government and taxi bosses.
But to many drivers, the minimum wage the government stipulates each year is just a hollow exercise because they are not paid according to it.
The Star met taxi drivers at the Westgate taxi rank, downtown Joburg, who earn far less than the minimum wage.
A taxi driver operating between the rank and Eastgate mall revealed he was getting paid R300 a week. He said many drivers were aware of the sectoral determination, but “it doesn’t apply here. It’s painful that I get paid so little. But what can I do? I understand the minimum wage is there to protect us as workers, but the owner won’t give you that” .
A fellow driver, also working between Westgate and Eastgate, said he earned way less than the minimum wage too. “We work hard as drivers, but we’re not paid accordingly.”
A taxi driver operating between Joburg and Vanderbijlpark said he earned R1 000 a week. While this is more than the set minimum wage, he said his pay was because he drove the 23-seater Iveco minibus. “Many of those driving the 15-seater taxis do not earn that much.”
A report by Sechaba Tumelo for his Master’s degree at Wits University, titled “Perceptions of the Minimum Wage in the Johannesburg Taxi Industry”, said the Labour Department fails to enforce the minimum wage.
Philip Taaibosch, president of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), admitted the industry does not pay according to the minimum wage regulation. However, he said many drivers earned commission, take home “far above the minimum wage”.
“When you’re talking to owners, they find it difficult to commit to the minimum wage,” Taaibosch said.
He blamed the status quo on the absence of state subsidies for the taxi industry. The Competition Commission’s report on whether the industry should be subsidised, is expected next year.
Teboho Thejane, spokesperson for the Labour Department, urged drivers who are paid below the minimum wage to lodge complaints.
Morake Mokoena, of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), said: “We have a difficulty with the department. They go to taxi ranks to ask drivers how much they earn, and after that they turn and say drivers must come to them to make formal complaints… It’s their duty to enforce the minimum wage,” Mokoena said.
Minimum wage is to protect workers, but owners won’t give you that