COSATU commends Old Mutual and Santam’s commitment to implement a R15 000 monthly minimum wage

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) commends Old Mutual and Santam’s commitment to implement a R15 000 monthly minimum wage.  We welcome Old Mutual’s announcement of its intention to implement four months fully paid parental leave for new parents, to disclose the wage gap between their highest and lowest earners, and to exceed the Employment Equity Act’s sectoral targets.

These progressive victories will benefit thousands of workers at Old Mutual and Sanlam and help spur similar initiatives in a financial sector that is often better for being allergic to transformation and improving the conditions of their employees.  They are the product of COSATU’s affiliate, the South African Services and Banking Organisation (SASBO)’s proposals and tireless campaigns in these companies and the financial and banking sector.  The Federation congratulates SASBSO’s for its dedicated efforts to service members and workers at large.

COSATU is particularly pleased with these developments as they are also the direct result of its relentless engagements in the Alliance, at Nedlac and Parliament to amend various laws to encourage and compel businesses to adopt more progressive policies, and name and shame those who prefer to treat workers like glorified slaves.

One of the objectives in setting a national minimum wage was to push wages for the most exploited workers from the bottom up and encourage employers to compete for workers by offering better wages.

The Companies Amendment Bills recently passed by Parliament require listed and state-owned companies to disclose their wage gaps between the highest and lowest income earners to help address our still prevalent apartheid wage gaps and the obscene packages paid to many captains of industry.

The Basic Conditions of Employment and Unemployment Insurance Acts provide a minimum platform for maternity, parental and adoption leave.  We encourage employers in both the public and private sectors to exceed these minimum conditions as new parents need time to bond and care for their babies and should not be financially penalised by receiving less than their normal full salaries.

Parliament amended the Employment Equity Act in 2023 to nudge laggard sectors, like the financial sector, to move with greater speed to ensure their workplaces embrace South Africa’s full diversity and economic potential.

Laws are put in place to set minimum standards that employers and other parties can be held accountable to.  They also seek to change society and workplaces’ culture, to embrace progress and deliver that better life for all.

When these laws were drafted and processed through Nedlac and Parliament, COSATU was relentlessly attacked by all sorts of armchair cranks and ideological lunatics for being a lone voice of sanity and progressive thought in championing these critical interventions in society.  Today not only are millions of workers are benefiting, but we are also step by step beginning to change the fabric of the workplace and society for the better.

Whilst we appreciate these victories, more must be done to deal with those employers who choose to defy the law.  This includes more labour inspectors and workplace inspections, educating and training workers to understand their rights, ensuring all workers are unionised, and naming and shaming those who break the law.

These hard won victories cast in law were possible because of COSATU’s Alliance with the African National Congress (ANC).  These and similar victories which improve the working conditions and lives of workers and their families are precisely why COSATU is calling on all workers and working-class communities to come out in their numbers on May 29th and vote for the ANC. 

These victories need to be defended, retained and enhanced.  We cannot afford to be complacent in securing these victories for future generations when countless right-wing parties have promised their funders to gut our progressive labour laws and strip workers of their hard-won rights, protections and benefits.

Issued by COSATU

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