Most progressive labour law
However, it is the signing of the long-awaited minimum wage legislation, dubbed the most progressive labour law under the democratic dispensation, which has pleased organised labour. Last week, the presidency told Business Day that the signing was “imminent” following concerns by organised labour that the delays had led to the R20 agreed on in February last year being devalued.
According to the bill, the minimum wage will be adjusted annually by a yet-to-be-appointed commission that must, within 18 months of the commencement of the act, conduct a review of the national minimum wage.
The signing marks an important political milestone for Ramaphosa, who led the process at Nedlac while he was deputy president. With the national elections just months away, he is expected to use its enactment to demonstrate the ANC’s commitment to uplifting the country’s working poor who earn below R20 an hour.
He has, however, also admitted in the past that the rate does not constitute a “living wage”, as criticism grew that the rate was too low after organised labour failed to secure a desired R4,500 monthly rate.
To mitigate its impact on vulnerable sectors, domestic workers and farm workers were excluded from the initial phasing in of the R20 hourly rate, with the implementation date for their inclusion into the coverage yet to be fixed.
Meanwhile, employers who are unable to pay the minimum wage due to constraints in their businesses will be eligible for exemptions.