Pacsa calls for in­crease in min­i­mum wage

The Witness - - NEWS - ED­WARD WEST

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.

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