The National Minimum Wage is having a negative impact on Engineering Sector talks

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) of R20 per hour which is due to be implemented next year is already having a negative impact on Engineering negotiations.
Employers are using the NMW rate of R20 per hour to erode the gains which workers fought very hard for in the last 23 years. The impact of introducing a minimum wage which is lower than what some workers are earning, will result in wages being drastically reduced, or workers facing mass retrenchments with only some of them being re-hired on a lower rate.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) will be meeting employers for a third round of negotiations under the auspices of the MEIBC today.
NUMSA is concerned about some of the proposals suggested by the employer for example:
Employers want new entrants to the sector not to earn the full rate, but should instead, earn 50% or half of the minimum rate.
Employers want those companies which have been violating the law and have been paying workers less than the minimum, to increase wages in line with the new national minimum wage of R20.37 per hour! Whilst other workers in the sector are earning a minimum of R40 per hour for grade H, which is the lowest grade.
Employers want firms which employ 20 people or less to be exempted from the wage agreement.
*For details on NUMSA’s wage demands click here
NUMSA cannot accept an agreement which contains such backward proposals. We cannot be complicit in violating the basic principles of equal pay for work of equal value, by offering new entrants to the sector only half of what they deserve.
The NMW was a project driven by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa’s National Minimum Wage of R20 per hour is a debt trap for the working-class. The hourly amount is not nearly enough to sustain a family, forcing the working class to depend on loans for survival. Through the NMW, Ramaphosa has demonstrated once again what an ultra-capitalist he actually is.
This former trade unionist together with the party he leads, continue to do all they can to defend white monopoly capital at the expense of the working class and the poor. Ramaphosa and his ANC government are always quick to give white monopoly capital a way out of fulfilling its obligations towards improving humanity.
The NMW, which is equivalent to US$1.58 per hour, is lower than the World Bank’s International Poverty Line of $1.90. As it stands the South African NMW will only entrench poverty and inequality. It is a compromise which Ramaphosa negotiated in order to benefit big business. They want to ensure that South Africa continues to be a haven for cheap Black and African labour by keeping salaries as low as possible while allowing workers to access the debt economy, which is really what the NMW is about.
Our members want a living wage which will allow them to raise their families with dignity. Furthermore as NUMSA we also demanded a minimum wage rate which will be sector based, so that workers won’t suffer through its implementation.
We wish to place it on the record that NUMSA is not inciting a strike, nor have we ever incited a strike. We have been clear in all our communication with the public that we are preparing for a possible deadlock, given the absurd proposal placed on the table by employers. Employers have put proposals on the table which will result in a down variation of the basic conditions of workers.
NUMSA repeats its commitment to fighting for an improvement in the current agreement because our members and their families deserve to live with dignity. We are committed to negotiating the best agreement which will enable our members and their families to improve their living conditions.
Aluta continua!
The struggle continues!
Issued by Phakamile Hlubi
Acting NUMSA National Spokesperson