Picture: ALON SKUY
Picture: ALON SKUY

The National Council of Provinces’ (NCOP’s) select committee on economic and business development on Tuesday adopted the national minimum wage bill, moving it a step closer to its implementation.

The bill, which provides for a national minimum wage of R20 per hour, was adopted without amendment and will now proceed to the plenary of the NCOP for adoption. After that it will be forwarded to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his signature and enactment.

Agricultural workers are set to earn R18 an hour and R15 was stipulated for domestic workers. The bill also provides for the establishment of a National Minimum Wage Commission which will review the minimum wage once a year.

Vusi Magwebu, the DA’s member on the committee, opposed the general application of the proposed national minimum wage saying that not all economic sectors could afford it. It could potentially choke small businesses and overload the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) with disputes.

Magwebu warned implementation would lead to further job losses in a situation of chronic unemployment and a struggling economy. The DA supports sectoral minimum wages that take into account the circumstances of each sector.

The EFF’s member, Brenda Mathevula, opposed the R20 national minimum wage as being too low, saying it would do nothing to reduce unemployment and poverty.

ANC committee member Moses Mhlanga supported the bill saying that it was a start. Cosatu welcomed the passage of the minimum wage bill as well as the Labour Laws Amendment Bill which provides for parental and adoption leave.

“This is an historic victory for millions of workers and their families,” Cosatu’s co-ordinator, Matthew Parks, said.

“The minimum wage of R20 per hour will see the wages of 6.4 million South Africans rise. This is equal to 47% of workers and [it] will directly benefit half the nation. It will put more wages in the pockets of millions of vulnerable, exploited and impoverished workers.

“This will help put food on the tables for millions. It will boost spending in the local economy and help spur economic growth. This is exactly what it has done in the US, Brazil, Germany and many other countries,” he said.

“It will be a major tool in the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment. Once the bills have been passed into law by the NCOP, Cosatu will throw its weight into the campaign for a living wage, for national health insurance, comprehensive social security, and expanding free quality education,” Parks said.

The Cosatu campaign would also focus on reliable and safe public transport, the acceleration of land reform, in particular for farmworkers, “and most importantly the struggle to create permanent decent jobs for all South Africans”.

The Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which provides for secret strike ballots and rules for picketing and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, which enhances the powers of the CCMA, were also adopted without amendment.