Report puts a number on possible national minimum wage
The figure will be made known on Sunday for discussion and acceptance, before ways of implementing it are decided on
A report which finally puts a figure to a possible national minimum wage is set to be tabled at a meeting of social partners on Sunday, in what Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa described as an “exciting moment”.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) conference on Friday, Ramaphosa said the “magical figure” that everyone has been waiting for is due to be discussed over the weekend, taking SA one step closer to the implementation of a national minimum wage.
Ramaphosa told journalists it was an exciting moment for all partners and an indication of “meaningful progress”.
Labour stability is a key focus for ratings agencies, which are in the country to review SA's credit rating.
Issues such as the national minimum wage, strike balloting and putting an end to lengthy and violent strikes are at the centre of discussions between partners in the labour market.
Ramaphosa said partners in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) will meet on Sunday to receive a report from a panel of advisers which he appointed on the issue of a minimum wage. The partners include government, business, labour and community based organisations.
“The report deals with what the minimum wage in the country should be... that proposal contains the figure, the magical figure that everybody has been waiting for, we will discuss it and we will then publicise it on Sunday,” Ramaphosa said.
“Thereafter it will be discussed across the length and breadth of the nation and thereafter we will discuss the mechanics, once it’s accepted, on how its going to work and how it will change over time, when it will be implemented and so forth.”
Ramaphosa said: “We will also be dealing with the issues of labour stability, issues regarding long strikes, violence during strikes.”
Labour has been frustrated with the slow pace of talks around a minimum wage, which was proposed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) as far back as 2012.
In 2014, the ANC agreed to investigate the modalities of a minimum wage and this formed part of its election manifesto.
Talks in Nedlac have been ongoing. Labour has also been resistant to the idea of strike balloting, but Ramaphosa was upbeat about the prospects of reaching finality on these difficult issues.
He told journalists that he had met ratings agency Fitch and had a long discussion in which labour stability was a key focus.
Fitch was keen to know whether strike balloting would be part of the agreements set to be reached in Nedlac.
“We said yes it will. They wanted to hear about the minimum wage, we said yes we are going to almost reach finality on that,” he said.
“By and large the meeting went well, they took in the information in a good way, I would say. They were like a sponge, just sucking in information. And we gave them all the info that they needed to get.
“I also briefed them on the state-owned enterprise process, and they seemed satisfied with the progress that we are making on that score, creating a more investment conducive climate in our country.”
Fitch was satisfied that SA was making progress and wanted to know where economic growth would come from. He described the meeting as “very positive”.
Meanwhile, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini on Friday said it remained opposed to strike balloting.
He said strike balloting already formed part of the Labour Relations Act and some constitutions of individual unions. However, the government and business were seeking to introduce a new ballot to put to workers when an offer is made during a strike.
Cosatu opposed this and had put its position to partners in Nedlac.
This is set to be a major hurdle for parties to overcome when they meet on Sunday.
Dlamini was cautious about the prospects of Sunday's meeting reaching finality on the minimum wage. "Let's see what the report says first,“ he said.