Minimum wage progress welcome, but there’s a long way to go

Minimum wage progress welcome, but there’s a long way to go

For the first time in many years there is movement in the labour relations stand-off and that is something to celebrate.

While we were not advocates of the minimum wage, we are pleased to see that it will be phased in over two to three years and there are provisions for exceptions, especially in the agriculture and domestic fields.

The minimum wage is well below what some unions were demanding so there has been significant compromise. Given that 47 % of the workforce earns below R 3 500, this could make a small contribution to reducing wage income inequality but broader consultation is required with industry employer associations to look at impact especially on the  SMME sector and informal business which could be hardest hit.

The Chamber had long campaigned for secret ballots before a legal strike could take place.

This is a simple democratic measure widely and successfully used in free countries and it is high time South Africa got on board. It will prevent domination by factions within unions and should help to reduce intimidation and violence which have become unfortunate features of many strikes over the years.

This measure is also to be phased in and it would be necessary to see the detail on how this would be done before commenting further.

Our great concern is about bringing unemployed young people into the workplace and businesses need flexibility especially during the first years when companies invest in training to make inexperienced people more productive.

The greatest challenge is in the development of skills. The Setas have been a costly disappointment and we need to find better ways to use the money, contributed by business in the form of payroll levies, to develop the practical skills necessary to make people more employable.

The progress is welcome, but there is a long way to go to ensure the healthy industrial relations necessary for progress and economic growth.

Janine Myburgh
President of the Cape Chamber