COSATU applauds the 2024 increase in the National Minimum Wage from 01 March 2024

02 February 2024

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) applauds the announcement by the Minister for Employment and Labour, Mr. TW Nxesi, that National Minimum Wage (NMW) will be increased from R25.42 to R27.58 from 01 March 2024.  This is a positive increase of 8.5% or inflation plus 3%.  The Federation had tabled this proposal to the NMW Commission in 2023 and is very pleased this progressive proposal will now be implemented. 

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

The NMW Act mandates the Commission to ensure the NMW is not eroded by inflation because this would plunge many workers deeper into debt, poverty, and despair. 

COSATU is pleased with the progress made since the NMW came into effect in 2019 at R20 per hour.  Today it is R27.58 and by 2025 should reach R30 an hour.  It has seen domestic workers’ wages 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 as there are now pegged at R15.16 an hour.  It is time EPWP and CWO workers’ wages were moved from 55% to being equalised with the NMW.

Whilst we have made progress, it is critical the Department of Employment and Labour crack down on employers who ignore the NMW Act.  COSATU will continue to mobilise unions and workers to expose such callous 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. Such 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.  The NMW is one of the most important poverty alleviation achievements of the 6th administration led by the African National Congress and in fact was personally championed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader.

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, slashing unemployment, creating decent 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