Pacsa calls for increase in minimum wage
THE Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (Pacsa) has provided sobering statistics on poverty to show why the National Budget to be delivered today is not benefiting average households.
It was one of many organisations that have called for an increase in the minimum wage level to between R4 000 to R8 000 per month.
The SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) this week called on Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to ensure a minimum wage of R4 000 a month, an amount other groups categorised as a “poverty wage”.
Pacsa called for the minimum wage to be R8 000 per month, which its research showed was the amount that a family of five needed every month to live at a basic level.
Mervyn Abrahams, director of Pacsa, said while corporates and the middle class awaits news of tax increases in the Budget, millions of poor people will continue to be preoccupied by their central challenge — survival and putting food on the table. • The latest poverty lines indicate 53,8% of South Africans live below the upper bound poverty line of R779 a month, based on statistics from 2011. • 11 million or onefifth (21,7%) of our population live on less than the food poverty line of R335 a month, or R11,17 a day based on statistics from 2011. • The child support grant (CSG) is currently R320, but the cost of a monthly minimum basket of food to feed a small child was R487 in January. • According to Cosatu, the minimum living level for a family of five is around R4 500 to R5 500 a month. In 2013, the median wage was just R3 033, with 50% of all workers earning below this level. • In January, the cost of a monthly minimum basket of food to feed a family of five was R2 711,29. • The unemployment rate was 24,3% in the last quarter of 2014 with expanded unemployment at 34,6%. • The SA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2012 showed that 26% of South Africans experience hunger while another 28,3% are at risk of hunger.
Abrahams said linking the increase of the social grants to inflation rates, as the 2015 Budget was likely to do, would only perpetuate the status quo and ensure poor people were kept in a state of chronic dependency and poverty.