Mixed re­ac­tion to Min­i­mum Wage Act

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MANYANE MANYANE [email protected]

THE en­act­ment of the Min­i­mum Wage Act has been wel­comed by work­ers and trade unions, but some econ­o­mists have ques­tioned the tim­ing.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa an­nounced this week that mil­lions of South Africans would be el­i­gi­ble to earn a min­i­mum of R20 an hour or R3 500 a month. The Act was signed on Novem­ber 23 last year and came into ef­fect on Jan­uary 1.

Cosatu said this would of­fer a solid foun­da­tion for work­ers.

“This is part of ad­dress­ing is­sues of eco­nomic growth with re­gard to in­come dis­tri­bu­tion and un­em­ploy­ment. We don’t un­der­stand why it is im­por­tant to have an econ­omy where work­ers pro­duce goods and can’t af­ford them,” said Cosatu spokesper­son Sizwe Pamla.

Fe­dusa said the an­nounce­ment came at a time when work­ers were strug­gling to make ends meet. “At least this will force ev­ery em­ployer to pay that re­quired R20 an hour,” said Fe­dusa spokesper­son Den­nis Ge­orge.

“To be hon­est, there’s never been a right time to in­tro­duce this bill be­cause there will al­ways be peo­ple crit­i­cis­ing it, de­spite the cur­rent eco­nomic con­di­tions. ”

How­ever, econ­o­mist Chris Hart was not con­vinced about the tim­ing of the an­nounce­ment, say­ing it was a strat­egy for the ANC to score votes in the May elec­tions. “I don’t have a prob­lem with the min­i­mum wage if we have poli­cies to end poverty. The prob­lem is, we need to cre­ate more jobs at the mo­ment. The un­em­ploy­ment rate is the big­gest is­sue,” said Hart.

Mean­while, the low­est-paid work­ers, such as petrol at­ten­dants and do­mes­tic work­ers, said it pro­vided much-needed re­lief. “At least R20 per hour will make a dif­fer­ence be­cause I was not sur­viv­ing with the money I am earn­ing. I was strug­gling to pay rent and look af­ter my chil­dren,” said a 33-year-old petrol at­ten­dant, who did not want to be named.

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