COSATU statement on the National Minimum Wage adjustment for the year 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has noted the National Minimum Wage Commission’s recommendation for a CPI plus 2% increase for this financial year.  The Federation finds this offer acceptable and reasonable since it will ensure that the minimum wage is not repealed by inflation.

This will provide significant relief to more than six (6) million workers earning within the range of the NMW. Workers in the farm, domestic, construction, retail, hospitality, transport, security, and cleaning services sectors will benefit the most. It is important to make ensure that the NMW is not eroded by inflation because this will plunge many workers deeper into debt, poverty, and despair. 

The Federation originally proposed to the Commission a CPI plus 3% increase.  We are, therefore, content with the final recommendation of CPI plus 2%. The NMW Commission has asked for public comments until the 13th of January 2023, and we will be making our submission to support the Commission’ recommendations and push the Commission to finalise its proposals to the Minister of Employment and Labour. We expect the Minister to move with speed to announce the final increase and to ensure that it comes into effect by 1 March 2023.  Workers cannot afford any delays.

COSATU is pleased with the progress that has been made with the NMW since it came into effect in 2019.  We have raised it from R20, and it will soon pass R26 an hour.  It has seen domestic workers rise from R15 and farm workers R18 in 2019 to being equalised with the NMW today.  This is a far cry from the slave wages farm and domestic workers were paid a few years ago, at times as little as R6 an hour.

Whilst we have made progress on this front, it is critical that the Department of Labour cracks down on those employers who ignore the NMW.  Equally, we expect unions across the board to work together to expose such employers, and Organised Business too must play its part. It is unacceptable that about 35% of employers still fail to comply with the national minimum wage. This matter should be treated with seriousness it deserves. These employers cannot be allowed to behave like they are above the country’s laws and treat their employees like glorified slaves.

Many critics of the NMW said before it came into effect in 2019 that it would lead to a job’s bloodbath.  Independent research by University of Cape Town has shown this not to be the case.  And that it has had a positive impact on reducing poverty and inequality levels and boosting the economy.  Other countries which introduced a NMW like the US, Germany, Brazil etc have had similar positive experiences.

But going beyond the NMW, the government needs to tackle the other obstacles to growing the economy, like ending loadshedding, collapsing infrastructure rebuilding, and corruption.  These are critical to reducing unemployment, poverty, inequality and ensuring that workers earn a living wage.

Issued by COSATU   

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794