Minimum Wage Has Officially Been Increased



An increase in the minimum wage would have come as a welcomed development for thousands of workers in South Africa. However, one of the country's largest worker's unions believes the increase does not make much of a difference. 



The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) confirmed that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) would increase in March 2024. 

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi revealed the latest NMW determination, which increased the rate from R25.42 to R27.58 for each ordinary hour worked. 

This updated NMW encompassed vulnerable sectors such as farm workers and domestic workers, which had previously been aligned with NMW rates since 2022.

South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says they critically welcome the increase in the minimum wage. 

While the union welcomes the increase, they argue that it will not make a difference in the lives of individuals working for minimum wage. This is due to the low amount of money received by minimum-wage workers

Saftu critically welcomes this increase but regrettably says the increase is above the inflation of an already meagre wage. 

They explain that the minimum wage sets a standard for employers, however, it does not address the poverty those earning the minimum wage face. 

Workers go to work but they remain poor. 

Vavi explains that R27.58 minimum wage per hour will translate to R4,633 for workers who work eight hours a day for 21 days a month. This falls below the household food basket. 

The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) studies the average cost of a list of 44 basic food items purchased most frequently by lower-income households. This monthly report is called the Household Affordability Index.

The Household Food Basket is not nutritionally complete. It is a basket of food which women try and secure each month for their families given affordability constraints. 

The average cost of a household food basket was R5,277 in February 2024. This indicates that the increase in the price of food for a family is greater than the minimum wage. 

Notably, the food basket does not take into account other essential items purchased by households, rent or transport costs. 

Regrettably, that amount is insufficient for households of workers to survive because of the latest household affordability index… shows us that an average household food basket costs R5324. 

Vavi says they are concerned that the DEL does not have the capacity and personnel to ensure employer compliance with the minimum wage. This could lead to situations where employers do not pay the minimum wage to their employees. 

We wish they could employ more labour inspectors, we condemn the budget cuts that are directed at them which renders institutions such as the CCMA toothless because they can’t employ sufficient commissioners to enforce the law. 

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