Globally, trade unions have seized on the national minimum wage as a powerful weapon against low pay. Closer home, the LRS has a long history participating in the minimum wage debate.
In 1991, we published our first paper on economic policy, putting the view for trade unions who wished for a national minimum wage to fight low pay in South Africa. Our advocacy at policymaking and union levels sprung from the data on the huge disparities in income in the labour market and the fact that South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. We advocated for a national minimum wage policy as a legislative drive to strengthen the protection of vulnerable workers.
On the 1st of January 2019, the National Minimum Wage Act came into effect in South Africa. Our Executive Director was nominated by a trade union federation and appointed by the Minister of Labour and Employment as a commissioner to the National Minimum Wage Commission, representing the interests of organised labour. Although the national minimum wage is set far lower than a living wage, it is a meaningful development that raises the floor for many in South Africa’s ultra-low wage economy.
We welcome input from our constituency (the labour movement) on its thinking about the national minimum wage and areas of concern.