DO­MES­TIC

Can now but­ter her bread

The Sunday Independent - - Front Page - NABEELAH SHAIKH AND SBONISO MNGADI

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.

nabeelah.shaikh@inl.co.za

BET­TER DEAL: Christina Mkhwanazi now has a one-day job and wants more work.

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