Hilary Joffe Columnist

The Sunday media briefing at which the report of the advisory panel on the national minimum wage was due to be released was delayed for two hours, apparently because the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) did not want the report to go public. Perhaps the trade union federation, which had reduced its national minimum wage demand to R4,500 but would budge no further, does not relish the idea of having to negotiate the R3,500 proposed wage the committee has put on the table for discussion and for a decision to be made by business, labour, government and community leaders. Judging by much of the comment on social media and in the mainstream media, many ordinary South Africans are as horrified as Cosatu by what strikes them as a meagre wage well below the so-called "working poverty line". They might be more appalled, though, at the detailed picture the committee’s report paints of just how low the wages are that millions of working South Africans earn each month — and just h...

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