The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the proposed increases for the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and domestic workers for 2022.
The NMW Commission has proposed a CPI plus 1% increase to the NMW. If CPI remains at 5% this could mean a 6% increase in the NMW from R21.69 to R23.
The NMW Commission has also recommended the equalisation of domestic workers who are currently pegged at 88% of the NMW. This would mean an increase from R19.09 to R23 for domestic workers. These increases will make a positive difference in the lives of over 6 million workers currently paid at the NMW level. It will mean a significant increase for the 892 000 domestic workers who are overwhelmingly women.
The Federation is pleased that these proposed increases to the NMW and domestic workers enjoyed the support of Organised Labour, Business and Government in the NMW Commission. This is important to counter the unwarranted attacks on the NMW by those who think of workers as glorified slaves.
COSATU is pleased that the extensive research undertaken by the NMW Commission shows that few job losses have occurred because of the introduction of the NMW and that it has helped to reduce poverty and inequality levels and stimulated local economic growth.
It is critical that the NMW Commission and the Department and Ministry for Employment and Labour move with speed to ensure that these progressive increases can come into effect by no later than 1 March 2022. Workers simply cannot afford delays when they are having to support large numbers of relatives who have lost wages and jobs and are often highly indebted.
The Federation is however aggrieved that the NMW Commission has yet to make a recommendation to increase and at the very least adjust for inflation the Basic Conditions of Employment (BCEA) Annual Income Threshold. The BCEA Annual Income Threshold is used to peg a variety of labour rights, protection, and benefits. Workers who earn below it are entitled to these protections and benefits. Workers who earn above it are not guaranteed these and need to negotiate for them with their employers and some benefits are capped at this level.
Key protections, rights and benefits include the Unemployment Insurance Fund benefits, Compensation of Injury on Duty Fund protection, overtime pay, protection from exploitation by labour brokers, and automatic access to the CCMA. The NMW Commission and its predecessor, the Employment Conditions Commission, have only adjusted this income threshold for inflation once since 2014. This has meant a massive erosion of protections and benefits for millions of workers.
This gutting of our progressive labour laws through the back door needs to be addressed through an increase to recover the erosion in its value since 2014.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (COSATU National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 679