Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA

The government, business and labour leaders are inching closer to realising a national minimum wage but union federation Cosatu has threatened to derail the matter if it finds the process unsatisfactory.

On Thursday, Cosatu said that it was determined to "defend and take forward the COP [committee of principals] mandate that the national minimum wage be implemented from December 2016".

The trade federation said it was concerned about delays in finalising the process after learning that an advisory panel, appointed to provide recommendations, had not finished its report.

The seven-member panel, which Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed in August, is due to report back at a meeting on Saturday.

But Cosatu said it had learned that only a progress report would be provided.

The feedback will be presented to Nedlac’s committee of principals — a high-level body chaired by Ramaphosa and comprising several government ministers, business and labour leaders.

It is understood that a draft report is available but that it had not been completed because a greater than expected number of submissions to the panel had been received.

Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said interaction with the advisory panel had been positive. "We get the clear impression that the panel has taken its mandate seriously. However, we are very concerned about the prospect of further delays.

"We are now well over a year beyond the July 2015 deadline that was set by the 2014 Ekurhuleni Summit for the finalisation of this matter."

Cosatu wants R4,500 for a minimum monthly wage but business and government are suggesting a minimum wage of between R2,000 and R2,200.

Pamla said Cosatu would also not accept a situation where the implementation of its suggested minimum wage was stretched over several years. He said the maximum period Cosatu would agree to is 24 months.

"You can’t take an issue that lasted for 20 years and you need administrations to implement.

"We can agree to that (Cosatu’s recommendation) and go to Nedlac to discuss how we implement," he said.

Nedlac spokeswoman Kim Jurgensen declined to comment on the report.

However, Jurgensen said feedback on another report into labour relations would be tabled as this had now been finalised.

A task team was established in terms of the 2014 Ekurhuleni Declaration to advise on stabilising the labour market.

"If that is accepted, it will go into the system," she said.

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