COSATU welcomes the proposed 2024 increase in the National Minimum Wage

08 December 2023

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the announcement by the National Minimum Wage Commission (NMW) of the proposed 2024 increase for the NMW by inflation plus 3%.  The Federation had tabled this proposal to the NMW Commission and is pleased this progressive proposal has received its support. 

This increase will help protect the value of the NMW and workers’ ability to take care of their families from inflationary erosion.  It will inject badly needed stimulus into the local economy spurring growth and helping to sustain and create jobs.  It will provide significant relief to more than six million workers earning within the range of the NMW. Workers in the farm, domestic, construction, retail, hospitality, transportsecurity, and cleaning services sectors will benefit the most. 

The NMW Act mandates the Commission to ensure the NMW is not eroded by inflation because this will plunge many workers deeper into debt, poverty, and despair.   The NMW Commission has asked for public comments until the 8th of January 2024.  The Federation will be presenting our submission to support the Commission’ recommendations and push it 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 ensure it comes into effect by 1 March 2024.  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 at R20 per hour.  Today it is R25.42 and will soon pass R27.50.  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 poverty wages farm and domestic workers were paid a few years ago, at times as little as R6 an hour.  Engagements are taking place with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on a road map to ensure that Expanded Public and Community Works Programmes’ workers reach the NMW as well.

Whilst we have made progress, it is critical the Department of Employment and Labour cracks down on employers who ignore the NMW Act.  Equally, we expect unions across the board to work together to expose such employers.  Organised Business too must play its part. It is unacceptable that an estimated 45% of employers fail to comply with the NMW. 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 the University of Cape Town has shown this not to be the case.  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 and Brazil have had similar positive experiences.

Beyond the NMW, government needs to tackle the other obstacles to growing the economy in particular loadshedding, cable theft, collapsing infrastructure and endemic crime and corruption.  These are critical to unlocking the economy, rebuilding public services and creating jobs as well as ensuring workers earn a living wage.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687