Workers in a clothing factory in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Workers in a clothing factory in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that the national minimum wage, which is expected to improve the wages of more than six-million workers currently earning below R20 an hour, will come into effect from January 1. 

The president made the announcement at a proclamation ceremony held with workers on Friday in Kliptown, Johannesburg.

Two weeks ago, Business Day reported that the minimum wage act — which had been in the works since 2015 and was signed by Ramaphosa along with other three other labour bills — would be implemented at the beginning of January. 

Ramaphosa told attendees at the ceremony that the wage regime was a result of a lengthy and difficult process of formulating the legislation that involved “disagreements” and “strike threats”.

He also repeated sentiments that the R20 an hour rate was not the ideal living wage anticipated as “there was a need to create a balance” taking into consideration the employment levels in the country.

He emphasised that the regime was not a “living wage” as expected by some quarters.

“There are workers still earning R7 an hour and less and this legislation will make a big difference in their lives,” he said.

Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi pleaded with employers to implement the minimum wage for those qualifying workers earning below the R20 an hour base line, while Business Unity SA CEO Tanya Cohen said the system would stand the country in good stead with ratings agencies.

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za