Domestics get 23% salary hike
Durban – The new national minimum wage is R21.69 for each ordinary hour – an increase of 4.5%. This will come into effect on March 1.
According to businesstech.co.za, the new minimum wage for South Africa was published in a government gazette on Monday night.
The website reported that the gazette also provided exceptions for a number of worker groups.
“Farmworkers are entitled to a minimum wage of R21.69 per hour (an increase of 16%); domestic workers are entitled to a minimum wage of R19.09 an hour (an increase of almost 23%); workers employed on an expanded public works programme are entitled to R11.93 an hour.
“The National Minimum Wage Act was first proclaimed in 2018, setting a historic precedent in the protection of low-earning (vulnerable) workers in South Africa and provided a platform for reducing inequality and huge disparities in income in the national labour market,” reported businessech.co.za.
It said the national minimum wage was first implemented on January 1, 2019, at R20 per hour. On March 1 last year it was adjusted to R20.76 per hour.
“In terms of the law it is an unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter hours of work or other conditions of employment in implementing the national minimum wage,” said the website.
Businessinsider.co.za reported that last year the National Minimum Wage Commission recommended that the minimum wage be increased by inflation (currently around 3%) plus 1.5%.
“It noted that inflation for poorer households is currently significantly higher than for higher-income earners, due to the relatively sharp increase in food prices. Because the households of minimum-wage earners spend more of their income on food, this hurts them more than higher earners,” said businessinsider.co.za.
It said the minimum wage was still below the upper-bound poverty line (of R1 268 per person per month).
Eunice Dhladhla, the assistant secretary-general of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union, said while they were thankful for the increase, it was still not enough.
“It is just a drop in the ocean compared to the services that a domestic workers provide. Besides being hard workers, they take care of a household when the employer is absent and they protect it.”
Dhladhla said the increase could have been rounded off to R20 per hour.
“What is 9 cents and what difference will it make? We, as domestic workers, are always last to be recognised. While we are grateful to the government for the increase, we still have another battle to fight to be recognised and compensated accordingly for the work we do.”
In a statement, the Democratic Alliance said the above-inflation minimum wage increases would lead to further job losses at a time when unemployment was rampant.
“Few sectors will be able to absorb such steep increases at a time of serious economic decline. As it is, the domestic service sector has been particularly hard hit by Covid-19 with many employers struggling to keep on their domestic workers.
“. . . The DA supports sustainable wage increases in the agricultural and domestic service sectors. We do not believe that increases should be forced by way of regulation. Increases should be determined by employers and trade unions entering into negotiations . . . the DA would have preferred the minister (Thulas Nxesi) to take the current economic climate into consideration and apply inflation-related increases.
“The government itself had to renege on the three year wage agreement that it entered into with public servants because of financial constraints. Many employers in the private sector will now find themselves in a similar situation.”