Cosatu leader hails proposal
Labour cautiously optimistic but no takers for second strike ballot
The president of the biggest union federation in SA has hailed the report on the national minimum wage as an "important moment" for workers, but there remains little agreement on measures to prevent lengthy and often violent strikes.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has presented the report to the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). It is being distributed to unions across the country.
Labour leaders are cautiously optimistic about the prospects of acceptance by members.
But the battle over strike balloting and workers carrying traditional weapons during protests has yet to unfold at Nedlac as unions remain opposed to a second strike ballot proposed during talks.
A second strike ballot forms part of measures proposed to curb lengthy and violent strikes, which are often at the heart of the volatility in the labour market.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini described the report as an "important moment" and said it was evidence that the federation’s four-year battle to see the introduction of a national minimum wage was bearing fruit.
Cosatu’s buy-in is significant because it is an important alliance partner of the ANC.
"It’s a very important step towards the right direction. The central executive committee will have a discussion and then express Cosatu’s attitude.
"But the fact that, indeed, there is this figure ... is not insignificant," he said.
Dlamini said the fact that the figure of R3,500, if agreed to, could kick in as early as 2017 was also important.
"That means that some 47% of workers who earn less than this could see the benefit in 2017, and that is important," he said.
Cosatu will discuss the report at a three-day central executive committee meeting which is currently under way at its head office in Braamfontein and hopes to emerge with a federation-wide position on Thursday.
Dlamini said Cosatu remained opposed to the introduction of a second strike ballot and would remain unmoved on that score.
Strike balloting ahead of industrial action already forms part of the Labour Relations Act, but the proposal for a second strike ballot to be conducted when a wage offer is made has been roundly rejected by Cosatu and its affiliates.
National Council of Trade Unions (Nactu) president Joseph Maqhekeni on Monday welcomed the report on the minimum wage and said it would be discussed on December 3. Nactu remained firm that it would not agree to a second strike ballot.
Federation of Unions of SA president Godfrey Selematsela expressed the same sentiment.