The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa NUMSA rejects the signing of the National Minimum Wage Bill by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The minimum wage bill will legalize the poverty wage of R20 per hour. This is an insult to the working class who fought and died to defeat the Apartheid government. They were fighting for a living wage which could lift them out of poverty and also, end the racist Apartheid wage gap.
It is a fact that South Africa is one of the global leaders in the gap between CEO’s and ordinary workers. CEO’s in South Africa are paid obscene amounts of money, whilst the workers, who create the wealth, earn peanuts. Workers will earn R20 per hour, whilst CEO’s will be earning an average of R8625. Cyril Ramaphosa has legalized slave wages and confirmed to SA corporates, that it is ok to exploit African workers and pay them low wages.
Workers at Marikana died fighting for a wage of R12500 per month. They recognized that only a living wage can guarantee dignity and drastically transform the lives of the African worker. The signing of these bills into law means that the creation of a pool of cheap African labour has been cemented.
The introduction of R20 per hour as a minimum wage means that workers who have fought for higher wages, will have their wages benchmarked against this very low wage. This is already happening in the Plastics industry. The introduction of the Poverty National Minimum Wage gave the Plastics Converters Association of South Africa (PCASA) and other backward employers the courage to impose this wage on workers. Workers who previously earned R46 per hour in Engineering, are now being forced to accept R20 per hour and they will be expected to work overtime without pay.
The Poverty National Minimum Wage will worsen the living conditions of workers. The amount was negotiated to favour capital in order to give them flexibility and limit the hours which workers can work. It is shameful that in this so-called democratic South Africa, more than 6 million people earn less than this insignificant amount. This is an indictment against the ANC government for failing to promote an agenda to genuinely improve and transform the lives of the working class.
NUMSA has been calling for a more considered approach on the minimum wage
NUMSA has been calling for a more considered approach on the minimum wage. Government should have taken time to research the salaries of the most senior executives in various sectors to enable them to construct a fair amount. For example, the 2016 pay taken home by Shoprite chief executive Whitey Basson – more than R100 million – is 3500 times more, than that of a typical casualised worker at his stores. How does Ramaphosa justify a wage of R20 per hour in the face of such rampant greed! How does a parent educate, clothe and feed their family on a measly salary of R20 per month, when government is also refusing to subsidize public transport, and general taxes (VAT), food and fuel prices have gone up astronomically?
NUMSA will continue to mobilize its members and the working class to fight against these slavery wages.
The Struggle continues!
Issued by Phakamile Hlubi-Majola
NUMSA National Spokesperson