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Last updated: 20 November 2016

FAWU view on proposed R3 500 Legislated Minimum Wages

20 November 2016

The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) wishes to react as follows on the announcement by the Government-appointed Panel of Experts Commission on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) that the figure should be R3 500 a month or R20 an hour.

Firstly, we welcome that this country has now realized that the NMW concept must be part of the policy make-up and dispensation as it was something that was elusive for years. This comes to the equation as too critical yet too late in light of our more than 22 years of political freedom and democracy and 47 years after the African National Congress (ANC) had its National Consultative Conference in Morogoro location in Tanzania where it was pronounced that in South Africa political freedom will be meaningless without economic emancipation.

Secondly, we do not understand the rationale for a possible exclusion, couched as special consideration, to both the domestic sector (employing close to R1.2m workers) and agricultural sector (employing about 800 000) in this newly announced proposed NMW, which constitute about 2m of the employed and a sizable chunk (47%) of the employed (about 3.5m employees) earning less than R3 500 anyway.

Thirdly, we are concerned that the proposed figure of R3 500 seems to be ignorant of or indifferent to this country as the widest unequal society on Earth, in terms of income distribution, and with abnormal poverty and unemployment rate given its stage of economic development and endowment of natural resources and mineral deposits, such as 70% of the world`s platinum.

Having said the above, we wish to reject the R3 500 as inappropriate and far from addressing the treble challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty where a CEO (the example of the 2010 package of Shoprite-Checkers` CEO Whitey Basson`s R830m in remuneration package of salary, performance bonus and share options comes in mind) would earn in one year what low-paid worker must work for 10 000 years at R83 000 a year or R6 700 a month.

Therefore, we will push for the NMW to be as low as R5 700 a month and for that, as FAWU, we will not only make submissions but wage campaigns because this country cannot afford to be the case-study of treble-challenges and social ills of only 20% in quality (private) health care, selective access to education to the elites (5% of the population) as the those from poor and working class backgrounds and so-called missing-middle are either financially-excluded or even academically-excluded.

Having said the below, FAWU will then wage a campaign in which the below principles with underpin and define our approach in this regard

  • Introduction of new taxes, especially Wealth and Reparation Taxes
  • Increased rate of both PAYE and Corporate Taxes to the Apartheid-days levels
  • 10% tax to cash reserves by ALL, be it listed companies, privately-placed owned companies or NGOs/POBs, trade unions and other civil society organizations

Meanwhile, having noted that the debris from Space or the Sky itself didn`t fall on Earth when the 53% adjustment on wages in the Agricultural sector, post-De Doorns, was introduced and implemented, we will push for this R5 700 a month NMW.