Cosatu took its Nedlac counterparts by surprise on Tuesday, putting the brakes on a minimum wage deal that everyone thought was in the bag. As a result, the signing ceremony meant to be presided over by President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa was postponed indefinitely. Cosatu said it needed to report back to its central executive committee on February 27 before signing, depriving Zuma of an opportunity to gloat at Thursday’s state of the nation address. After more than two years of negotiations and research, it has emerged that the federation remained uncomfortable with three issues, which it believed had not been adequately addressed in the agreement. These include the issue of working hours, the annual increase in the minimum wage and medium-term targets. It is understood that without a comprehensive package, which includes these elements, the R20-per-hour minimum wage would be meaningless. The decision to pull out of the signing ceremony is said to have been made dur...

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