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On May 1, 6-million workers will get a pay increase to take them up to R20/hour, SA’s new national minimum wage (NMW). This will be a bonanza of up to R1,000 a month for many households, boosting consumer spending and, possibly, the nation’s GDP. It could also, by narrowing the pay gap between top and bottom earners, build trust and increase productivity. On the other hand, since the new wage floor of R3,500/month will be above the pay levels of roughly 47% of the workforce (including close to 60% of clothing and furniture workers, 55% of construction workers and 48% of people in retail), the cost structure of significant parts of the economy will rise unless workers’ productivity rises too. That companies may respond by reducing employee working hours or altering employment conditions to soften the impact of the new measures has been scotched by the National Minimum Wage Bill now before Parliament. It states that to do so would be an "unfair labour practice".

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