Can now butter her bread
THE Facebook story of a Musgrave domestic worker earning a meagre R1 500 a month for a sevenday-a-week job has landed 56-yearold Christina Mkhwanazi a decent part-time job and full-time accommodation.
After learning about her plight, a good Samaritan Mazeeda Limbada posted an appeal on the Everything Musgrave Facebook group.
It read: “Hi guys this lovely lady is currently working as a domestic for 7 days a week from 7am till 8pm for only R1 500 a month.
“We all know this is not enough for basic needs. Please if anyone is looking for a reliable helper, give the lovely Christina a call. Let’s make this lady’s day.”
The story soon went viral on social media, not only sparking heated debate on the working conditions of domestic workers in South Africa, but also resulting in lots of job offers from across the country.
This week the National Minimum Wage Bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of political parties in Parliament.
The bill will now go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.
The bill proposes a minimum wage of R3 500 a month, broken down into R20 an hour for most workers, R18 an hour for farmworkers, R15 an hour for domestic workers and R11 an hour for Expanded Public Works Programme workers.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant had stated that the proposed minimum wage was based on research and analysis of various circumstances and their possible implications.
The most recent 2018 World Bank Report found that more than 55% of South Africa’s population currently lived below the poverty line, with those closest to the poverty line living on R992 per person, with many households suffering constant food insecurity. The mother of four has been a domestic worker for most of her life unable to break the pattern of exploitation that domestic workers face.
She was first offered a position at double her salary, but with her employer allegedly withholding her salary, she could not take it on immediately. “So I lost the position,” Mkhwanazi said this week.
She has since moved to a home in Westville, KwaZulu-Natal,.where she will get decently paid for a oneday-a-week job, and be free to work for other people in the on other days.
While working for her former employer in Musgrave she was expected to work seven days a week.
“I hardly got to go home to my family. When I did want to go home, it was an issue. I only went home once a month, for one night only,” she said.
Mkhwanazi said some of her other working conditions included living in a room with no electricity. She said she was allowed to eat only leftovers and dry bread.
“There was not even Rama or something to butter my bread,” she said.
Commenting on her story, Tertius Bossert, operations manager at FNB Law on Call, urged employers to adhere to the domestic workers’ minimum wage set by the Department of Labour.
“Domestic workers, who work in urban areas earn a minimum of R13.05 per hour. Those working in non-urban areas earn a minimum of R11.89 per hour.
“These rates are under review,” said Bossert.
When Mkhwanazi’s former employer was contacted, she refused to comment and hung up the phone on three occasions.
Limbada, who can be contacted via the the Everything Musgrave Facebook page, has appealed to people in Westville to offer employment to Mkhwanazi.
BETTER DEAL: Christina Mkhwanazi now has a one-day job and wants more work.