Hansard: NCOP: Unrevised hansard

House: National Council of Provinces

Date of Meeting: 02 May 2018

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Minutes

UNREVISED HANSARD

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

 

WEDNESDAY, 02 MAY 2018

 

 

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

 

 

The House met at 15:02.

 

 

The Deputy Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.

 

 

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF NELSON MANDELA – RESTORATION OF WORKERS’ RIGHTS TO DIGNITY THROUGH THE NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE

 

 

(Debate on Worker’s Day)

 

 

The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Hon Deputy Speaker and hon members, International Workers’ Day, May Day, as it is known globally, is what we are dealing with in this debate. For many of us, this day brings back both bitter and sweet memories. To those who were not part of the struggle against apartheid, you may not

 

fully comprehend the painful joy that filled South Africans on day when the declaration of 1 May as workers’ day was announced. It is on this day when we are reminded of the pains, struggle and grief that colonialism and apartheid oppression brought to bear the millions of working class.

 

 

As we celebrate the lives of Mama Albertina Sisulu and our former late President Nelson Mandela, it is fitting to flag, but a few points to ponder as we move forward to the future. The ANC at its watershed conference in Morogoro in 1969, posed a critical question about the role of the working class in the national liberation struggle, and I quote:

 

 

Is there a special role for the working class in our national struggle?

 

 

The ANC declared that and I once quote again:

 

 

The double-oppressed and doubly exploited working class constitutes a distinct and reinforcing layer of our liberation and socialism and does not stand in conflict

 

with the national interest. Its militancy and political consciousness as a revolutionary class will play no small part in our victory, and in the construction of a real people’s South Africa.

 

 

Indeed, the ANC has stayed true to the commitment to work with the working class in all its efforts to transform this country. You do not have to look further than this spirit and the letter of our labour policies to test this assertion. The ANC recognises that workers and their trade unions are at the economic heart of our country. It is workers who mine the minerals and produce the exports that fuel our growth. It is workers who put food on our tables and build the facilities that deliver the services our people need. Without workers’ organised participation, our efforts to become more productive and competitive will not succeed.

 

 

The International Workers’ Day therefore presents an excellent platform to commemorate the heroes and heroines who shared blood and lost lives to make South Africa a country that we have to come to know today. South Africa is the only known country

 

within the International Labour Organisation, ILO, family of member states that has labour rights enshrined in its Constitution. It is also not a small fit to note that 2018 is also the 22nd anniversary of the Labour Relations Act, which significantly changed the labour relations landscape in South Africa. We are truly proud of the contribution of our toiling masses.

 

 

The ANC government has strived to create an enabling environment for trade unions to operate in order to advance the interest of their members, whilst finding the delicate balance so as not wreck the economy in the process. We truly believe that the actual job and advancing sound industrial relations and collective bargaining is best left to trade unions and the employers. Ours is that of creating an appropriate labour legislative framework... [Interjections.]

 

 

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sorry, Minister! Hon members, can we lower our voices please? We are conversing too loudly. Can we give a hearing to all speakers? Proceed, hon member.

 

The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Ours is that of creating an appropriate labour legislative framework tools and institutions to support and promote this important work. The Freedom Charter has remained the cornerstone and a point of reference for the ANC government when developing policies. Let me for one minute illustrate what I am talking about by lifting the five Freedom Charter core demands around promotion of decent work which are explicitly captured in our labour laws. The Freedom Charter states, then I quote:

 

 

All who work shall be free to form trade unions, to elect their officers and to make agreements with their employers; workers shall draw full unemployment benefits; men and women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work; there shall be a forty-hour week work, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers; miners, domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as others who work.

 

The ANC government has pursued these fundamental worker rights through, inter alia, the Labour Relations Act, which is the centre piece of our labour laws in South Africa. It advocates profound democratic elements in its architecture as it recognises, among other things, that collective bargaining is the most acceptable means of resolving disputes of mutual interest, and provides the means to reach agreement between those disputants. It recognises that strikes and lockouts are an intrinsic part of the process of collective bargaining.

 

 

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which seeks to advance economic development and social justice by establishing and enforcing basic conditions of employment. It also gives effect to and regulates the right to fair labour practices as contained in section 23(1) of the Constitution by establishing and enforcing basic conditions of employment, including covering the country’s obligations as a member state in the United Nations itself and the International Labour Organisation.

 

 

The Employment Equity Act, which provides strict prohibition of discrimination in the workplaces as an obligation on employers

 

to review all policies, procedures and practices that have a degree of unfair discrimination. An Occupational Health and Safety Act which to make provisions for the health and safety of people at work and in relation to their use of operating equipment and machinery.

 

 

Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act which provides compensation to be paid to workers who, as a result of their activities at work are injured, partially or totally disabled or contracts occupational diseases. The Compensation Fund steps in as the medical aid and pension fund for workers who get injured in the line of duty.

 

 

When it comes to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, an unemployment insurance scheme which pays out benefits to workers in the case they lose their jobs, which include benefits for prolonged illnesses, maternity, adoption and unemployment benefits. You are also aware that we have since submitted in this august House, the National Minimum Wage Bill, which concludes our mission in terms of fulfilling all the aspirations of our people as enshrined in the Freedom Charter and our

 

Constitution. Whilst the introduction of the national minimum wage may not mean a lot for those who are well looked after in their world of work, the majority of the vulnerable workers, in fact, over six        million of them, the national minimum wage will make a huge difference. We all agree and mindful of the fact that the proposed national minimum wage is by no means a living wage, but for all intends and purposes, it remains as an important and timely policy intervention. It also augurs well as a tool to promote social justice which has remained a pipe dream for many.

 

 

It is also important to note that the three labour federations in South Africa, that is: Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu; Federation of Unions of South Africa, Fedusa; and National Council of Trade Unions, Nactu, support the proposed level of R20 per hour as a starting point, and are happy to let the National Minimum Wage Commission provide expert advice on whatever adjustments that may be necessary going forward. Let me point out that reaching the point where we are today on the National Minimum Wage Bill, was not a rushed overnight process, but it took us well over three years.

 

The journey of the national minimum wage starts with the Freedom Charter where it states, as I have quoted previously, that there shall be a national minimum wage in a democratically governed South Africa. To give effect to this demand, the 2014 ANC manifesto directed the ANC government to investigate the modalities for the introduction of the national minimum wage as one of the key mechanisms to reduce income inequalities. The journey to transform the labour relations in South Africa has not been an easy one. Unless we choose to forget, some of you will know how difficult it was to obtain infamous work seekers. You will also recall that before 1994, a farm worker was not recognised as a worker as such could be dismissed summarily without a notice.

 

 

The ANC government has made sure that workers in these sectors are at the very least guaranteed minimum wages which are set by the sectoral determinations; a far cry from what was the case in the past. Today over 4,6 million workers are dependent solely on the Ministerial Sectoral Determinations for their minimum working conditions, a living testimony that the ANC cares for

 

the workers. Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker. [Applause.] [Time expired.]

 

 

Mr M BAGRAIM: Deputy Speaker we are here today to celebrate May Day and freedom month labour. It is with a heavy heart that I need to say that the labour freedom was short lived. In 1995, under the wisdom and guidance President Mandela we hailed the implementation of our Labour Relations Act in a plethora of forward thinking labour laws. However, since the implementation of these laws we have gone backwards. [Interjections.]

 

 

In this very Parliament four years ago, the President of the ANC and unfortunately of the country, President Zuma, announced that the government was going to create 5 million jobs. President Zuma was notorious for his inability to understand mathematics and counting and we have already seen a steady destruction of losing 5 million jobs. Our labour laws have acted as a handbrake to job creation and the labour regulatory authority appears to have done everything in its power to not only cause our workforce to dwindle but to stop businesses creating more employment positions.

 

Today we have over 9,2 million people unemployed and we are about to embark upon disastrous legislation which will cause at least a further 750 000 jobs to be lost. The Treasury tells us that they can forecast these losses so it ill behoves us to have and to say the unintended consequence. Although there are some progressive and forward thinking imminent changes to both the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act the overall import of the changes will be negative.

 

 

It doesn’t help to have some of the best and innovative laws in the world if these laws are not going to have the effect on those at the workplace. We have over 16 million employed South Africans today but we have only 1200 inspectors from the Department of Labour. These inspectors are underpaid, overworked, under-resourced and invariably small businesses, with all sorts of pressures, don’t even know what the labour laws are and the majority of our workforce is not unionised.

 

 

All the labour federations acknowledge that their numbers are dwindling and the unions confirm that their reach into the small business sector is minimal. Our labour laws can be compared to a

 

brand new beautiful shining car which has no engine and no driver. Our government’s answer to its inability to enforce the law is merely to make more law and to make the regulations more onerous and complicated.

 

 

There is no incentive for anyone to even consider the implementation of the laws that we already have, let alone the new laws and the burdensome regulations we are about to face. When a staff member is first engaged at the workplace the very basis of our labour legislation requires that the staff member receives a letter of appointment or a contract of employment. From that contract the rest of the rights flow in terms of the implementation of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Labour Relations Act and the many other pieces of labour legislation on our statute book today.

 

 

When we enquire as to how many workers in South Africa actually do have letters of appointment or contracts of employment we are astonished to see that thousands upon thousands of our workers don’t even have that simple document from which the enforcement of their rights flow. Unfortunately, the message that we are

 

receiving from the employers is the same. Hundreds of companies tell us that they have difficulty trying to register for workmen’s compensation and Unemployment Insurance Fund, UIF. Many more tell us when they try to claim from workmen’s compensation and UIF they hit a dead end.

 

 

The most vulnerable people in our society are those who have been injured at work and who are unable to continue working. They have insurance for which they handsomely pay every month. This insurance supposedly is there to compensate them for these injuries and to pay for their medical expenses. Only last week I received a further 27 complaints of claims that have been outstanding for years sometimes for decades. These complaints are a drop in the ocean as I receive regular daily pleas for help from these vulnerable people who are left bereft and non- functioning.

 

 

Despite the fact that we have insurance which is heavily resourced and over-funded, they receive nothing. I have just read an application to the High Court where the applicant is seeking to have a warrant of arrest put out for the workmen’s

 

compensation commissioner. One can only shudder at this abuse when in fact the Public Investment Corporation, PIC is holding billions of rands in reserves to enable the commissioner to pay out our injured workforce. The real elephant in the room is the ongoing mismanagement of just about every section of our Department of Labour.

 

 

We have just had current feedback from the Auditor General who talks about material non-compliance, irregular expenditure, inadequate contract management, wasteful expenditure, lack of skills at various levels, high number of fraud cases and financial management investigations, duplicate payments made and loans issued to medical service providers in prior years not recovered and many recent suspected fraud incidents. I can go on and on; however, there is a culture of poor performance and weak internal control.

 

 

It is horrific to read about the lack of urgency and commitment to improve the control environment which may lead to increased instances of fraud and could have negative impact on delivery - all this when the service delivery is at an all-time low. It

 

should be pointed out that there are some existing dedicated hard-working staff who are probably over-worked and who often get discouraged and eventually leave the entity or adapt to the culture of poor performance.

 

 

We have entities such as the compensation fund who keeps purchasing IT systems but somehow never integrate them properly or learn how to use them. It should be mentioned that the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA is the one sparkling jewel in the broken crown of the Department of Labour. The CCMA has managed to a large degree to try and keep labour peace. Unfortunately, we are going to see this jewel have its shine taken off within the next year when the burdensome national minimum wage lands on its lap.

 

 

The CCMA performance has been sterling but that are running at full capacity with their budget utilised to the fullest. The CCMA investigated its workload and has been conservative in stating that its workload will be increased by over 30% with the advent of the new legislation. There is no budget earmarked for this increase and they are over a year away from being able to

 

train commissioners to handle the tidal wave – the tsunami - of referred disputes.

 

 

National Economic Development and Labour Council, NEDLAC - the toy telephone - spent over two years debating the national minimum wage and its modalities. Many of these issues are going to have an enormous effect on the unemployed in South Africa and the future dwindling workforce. There is no voice of the unemployed and there was certainly no thought with regard to job creation. This is the true story of rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic. As talk shops go, NEDLAC is good for those who are entrenched in the workplace and seen as the labour aristocracy.

 

 

Even now when a new trade union formation seeks a place at the table, the greedy wolves around that table are trying their utmost to deny them a seat. It is really rich to see that the auditor general has raised a concern about HR management at NEDLAC. It would be laughable as these are the very people who purport to guide human resources in South Africa. Over and above this enormous levels of concern have been earmarked within

 

NEDLAC such as management, procurement and contract management, performance management, financial management, oversight and monitoring. They have been warned they are about to face an audit failure.

 

 

Collective bargaining in South Africa is about to take another knock with these future amendments where the hon Minister may extend a collective agreement where either employer parties or big trade union parties are representative. In other words, big business and big trade unions can extend agreements to destroy small business. There are some positive amendments and we need to applause for that.

 

 

Firstly, the provision for a secret ballot is intended to ensure that individual union members ... I thank the hon Ollis for that secret ballot proposal. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]

 

 

Ms N NOLUTSHUNGU: Deputy Speaker, in celebrating the Workers Day we are also celebrating 100 years Nelson Mandela and the restoration of worker’s rights to dignity through the national minimum wage. To be a worker in a ruthless capitalist economy,

 

here in South Africa and anywhere in the world and in particular, to be a black worker is to defy death on a daily basis. To be a black worker you cannot choose between being alive and proud, or be dead or not care because you are bound to death as long as you are dehumanised, treated as an object and paid a normalized slave wage. To defy death on a daily basis is only to postpone what cannot be avoided as all workers are

death-bound subject of capitalism.

 

 

Nelson Mandela and his fearless generation of outstanding Pan- Africanists understood these relations between workers, death and exploitation as the reason for brutal land dispossession of black people to force millions over many generations into slave wage, work in mines, farms, factories and white people’s kitchens, living women and children landless, homeless, workless and with no income to sustain and build decent lives which is why we cannot separate the indignity of black workers from poor black women, children and people living with disability.

 

 

The murderous, sexist, criminal and exploitative capitalist economy did not allow workers their humanity and dignity. In

 

celebrating 100 years of Nelson Mandela, his legacy and his call to our generation to rebuild a truly equal society in which we live humanise black workers, requires true commitment to uplift workers from poverty, slave wage and indignity. The introduction of a national minimum wage must go beyond the narrow purpose of establishing a minimum floor wage below which no worker must be paid.

 

 

The motivation for such a socioeconomic policy instrument must be understood in a context of more than 100 years institutionalised slave wages which have condemned black workers and their families to abject poverty and unimaginable misery.

First and foremost, the underlying motivation for a national minimum wage is to reclaim black worker’s dignity as a human being and then as a worker. Secondly, a national minimum wage must deal with the legacy of apartheid, a structural economic crisis responsible for budgets cuts, high interest rates, rising inequality and poverty. The R20 per hour proposed national minimum wage is a spit in the face of workers by the ANC government and must be rejected. The EFF calls for land expropriation. Thank you. [Applause.]

 

Mr X NGWEZI: Hon Deputy Speaker, yesterday South Africa celebrated Workers Day with much pomp and ceremony, yet in reality the workers in this country have very little to be cheerful about and even less so the unemployed masses all of whom this government appears to have forgotten. It is a sad fact that 39% of all currently unemployed people in this country have never had a job. Youth unemployment sits stubbornly at 6O,3% which is a national tragedy and is chronic in the extreme even when compared against other African countries that are classified as upper middle income countries.

 

 

This is further exacerbated by a demand for prior work experience from both government and the private sector. This must be addressed so as not to allow a stagnation of our learners who find themselves in an academic post graduate limbo for not being able to complete post graduate internships.

Annualised unemployment in South Africa is 4,8% which is double that of the employment growth rate which sits currently at 2,4%. If this trend persists and no corrective action is taken by this government, the National Development Plan goal of reducing

 

unemployment by 6% by 2030 will be a total failure as the reduction will be wholly unattainable.

 

 

Labour broking in South Africa should be abolished as the tripartite nature of the employment agreement provides many loopholes for easy termination of service without exploring other avenues for maintaining the working relationship. For those fortunate enough to have employment, the national minimum wage proposed by government which is currently at R20 per hour and

proclaimed widely as a living wage, is in reality far below the daily expenses of many workers when one takes into account daily transport costs and subsistence provision.

 

 

This living wage as proposed, hon Deputy Speaker, is nothing really but a poverty wage and the IFP remains of the firm contention that when in addition to this you have a 26,7% unemployment rate in the country, then there is nothing to celebrate in South Africa on Workers Day.

Yesterday, the IFP led by the President, His Excellency, the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, marched upon the offices of the

 

Minister of Labour in Richards Bay, where a list of demands were handed over to the Minister’s representative and possible solutions were presented that the IFP feel if implemented by government would have a significant impact in reducing unemployment in the country. The IFP will continue to champion the voice of equal and fair opportunity for all South Africans in the workplace. Thank you.

 

 

Prof N M KHUBISA: Hon Deputy Speaker and hon members, once again today we are engaging this House in a very important topic, a twin stream theme which on one hand deals with the celebration of Madiba’s 100 years and on the other, the restoration of dignity he brought to the workers through a minimum wage. The National Freedom Party hold in high esteem the role Madiba played in the struggle for liberation and the ushering in of a new democratic dispensation in our Country.

 

 

Then the second stream of the debate deals with a very critical matter which is meant to impact 30 million South Africans who face the brunt of abject poverty and live under the conditions of squalor. The national minimum wage model is a very important

 

instrument for South Africans, but it is important for us to say that working for a pittance of R160 a day and R20 an hour is not good enough, however the narrative should start from somewhere. We don’t have to close the debate. We must say that we need to engage social partners at National Economic Development and Labour Council, NEDLAC, even further to move closer to a decent national minimum wage, the wage that is meant to alleviate poverty whilst at the same time it takes into consideration the economic position of our country. Workers have been manipulated and abused for a long time.

 

 

We need to say to the domestic workers, farm workers, petrol attendants, security guards, etc, you have to get more and the government must do more for you to get more.

 

 

The underlying fact is that we need to close the poverty gap in our Country. We are a Country where the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer on a daily basis. According to the data given by the World Development Report 2019, South Africa would need 7,9% of the gross domestic product, GDP, to close the poverty gap whilst countries like Chile and Indonesia would

 

require an average of 8,7% and 4,5% respectively to close the poverty gap.

 

 

Further, on behalf of the NFP we want to state it categorically that the questions of poverty, illiteracy, landlessness and the vast structural inequalities that characterise our country must be factored in a discussion like this one. It has been found that taxi drivers, domestic workers, etc, are unaware of the developments around the National Minimum Wage Bill. We seem to be late starters, for instance, the question can be asked as to why a discourse on a matter of such magnitude was only started two or three years ago. If we started for example, in 1994 we would be at a point of amending the already existing Act to cater for the increment on what we would have been decided regarding what the national minimum wage should have been then.

 

 

In conclusion, Deputy Speaker, it is important that we move far beyond the rhetoric in order to ensure that we bring about dignity to the workers who have to sell their sweat and energy for almost nothing at the end of the week or at the end of the

 

month. They deserve to be paid a decent wage. Thank you very much.

 

 

Mr N L S KWANKWA: Hon Deputy Speaker, while we welcome the debate on establishing a minimum wage for our people, we must say that the proposed R3 500 per month does not go far enough. Throughout 2017, the public was made to believe that the national minimum wage is going to be R3 500 per month. However, the Bill makes it clear that there will be no monthly minimum wage but rather an hourly rate of R20. Workers will only earn  R3 500 if they are able to work a 40-hour week. However, large sections of the labour workforce find it difficult to secure a 40-hour week employment. Subcontracted workers and workers in short-term contracts often work variable hours and are therefore unlikely to ever earn R3 500 per month.

 

 

The hourly rate of R20 minimum wage represents a possible advantage for some workers who earn below R20 an hour, but is deemed as a “working poor” wage. Furthermore, the national minimum wage is an amount set far below a living wage.

 

The national minimum wage cannot and should not be viewed in isolation from the inability of the Department of Labour to enforce labour legislation. For instance, the proposal for the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, CCMA, to have a bigger role in enforcing labour disputes will be a failure, if the CMMA is not capacitated to handle such a volume of matters effectively.

 

 

Due to the fact that employers do not comply with labour legislations, the CMMA will become increasingly burdened by their added responsibility, which the Department of Labour will shift to them. The CCMA currently receives about 1 000 cases daily and we reasonably estimate that the R20 million added to their budget will not be sufficient to deal with all the labour disputes. This shifting of the burden from the Department of Labour to the CCMA will render the CMMA dysfunctional.

 

 

We are concerned about the fact that the National Minimum Wage Commission is not required to adjust the national minimum wage but is only required to review it annually. This therefore means

 

that the minimum wage might be left unchanged for a long period of time.

 

 

The UDM therefore recommends that: we review the powers of the National Minimum Wage Commission to propose adjustments to the national minimum wage; the Minister of Finance be obligated to consider the recommendations by the National Minimum Wage Commission and in addition, the Minister of Finance must be able to do what the Minister of Finance in Britain does, which is to adjust the hourly minimum wage for inflation during budget speeches, in order to align it ... [Time expired.] Thank you.

 

 

Mr A D ALBERTS: Hon Deputy Speaker, the idea of a national minimum wage, like many other ideas to create a more equitable world is a noble notion. However, it will remain a mere notion if the policy is not aligned with reality. Unfortunately, it is not.

 

 

Afrikaans:

 

Vele studies oor minimumlone is al regoor die wêreld gedoen, selfs deur die Wêreldbank. Telkens word daar bevind dit is

 

minder skadelik en meer uitvoerbaar is om die ekonomie te groei, ten einde eendersyds, werkskeppinq te vermeerder en andersyds, lone te verhoog.

 

 

Die voorvereiste vir ekonomiese groei is, in wese, om vryheid te verhoog. En hoe meer markvryheid daar is, hoe kleiner word ongelykheid.

 

 

English:

 

The effect of the national minimum wage is going to be tragic and will not result in the upliftment of workers in a sustainable manner. In reality, the following will take place: it will lead to job losses in those sectors where the poorest of the poor are employed like miners and farm workers and they will unfortunately be replaced by machines; it will lock the unemployed completely out of the labour market as few new entry- level jobs will be created; the positive effect of the higher income of workers will be neutralised by higher consumer prices, as businesses pass the higher labour costs onto consumers; and lastly, some businesses will simply uproot and re-establish themselves in friendlier business environments and then the

 

national minimum wage, together with appropriation without compensation, will lead to further disinvestment in South Africa.

 

 

Afrikaans:

 

In teenstelling sal ‘n vrye mark met laer belastingkoerse, meer beleggings na ons land toe trek, soos die VSAtans gewys het.

Firmas sal meer belê en dus, meer werk skep. Ongelukkig, soos die gerekende ekonoom, Mike Schussler, sê het Suid-Afrika van die beleqgingsradar afgeval. Netto buitelandse investering was in 2017 minus 30,9%. Dit beteken dat ons meer oorsee belê as wat die buiteland in Suid-Afrika belê. Die Suid-Afrikaanse skip lek beleggingskapitaal en dit vernietig werk en hoër salarisse. Geen minimumloon kan die probleem herstel nie.

 

 

English:

 

The 25 largest developing countries achieve an average nett foreign direct investment of 30%. If we can achieve that, it could mean up to three million new jobs. This can halve the unemployment rate and reduce inequality substantial salaries as well, but clearly, the government is looking in the wrong places

 

for real solutions. Real solutions cannot be found in good intentions that flounder in the real world.

 

 

Afrikaans:

 

Die formule vir welvaart is welbekend aan ons en aan die wêreld. Ons moet dit net instel en gebruik. Die instelling van ’n minimumloon in ’n omgewing waar disinvestering baie plaasvind is ongelukkig ’n radikale afwyking van daardie pad. Ons moet ’n ander pad volg. Dankie.

 

 

Ms T M TONGWANE: Hon Deputy Speaker and hon members, I am going to outline the South African process of arriving at the agreement reached in National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, on the national minimum wage.

 

 

The ANC has a tradition of representing in government the aspirations of South African workers and other progressive strata. This tradition predates the 1994 democratic breakthrough. The ANC embraced the Reconstruction and Development Programme, RDP, the brainchild of Congress of SA

 

Trade unions, COSATU. Our Icon President Nelson Mandela championed the RDP as the programme of the ANC.

 

 

The national minimum wage is one among many campaigns initiated by the organized working class that the ANC as the true home of workers has supported in government.

 

 

The 11th COSATU’s national congress held in 2012 resolved to campaign for a national minimum wage. This decision was consolidated by the federation’s Collective Bargaining and Campaigns Conference held in March 2013. Through engagements between the ANC and COSATU, we included the national minimum wage in our 2014 election manifesto.

 

 

This matter was discussed in a Nedlac Labour Relations Indaba in November 2014. At this meeting, the then Deputy President of the country, Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, recommitted government to implementing the national minimum wage. The Indaba agreed that all parties: government, labour, business and community should urgently engage on the details.

 

A Task Team was established under Nedlac and it started its work in early March 2015 and was instructed to make recommendations by July of the same year.

 

 

In this same period, Germany, Europe’s biggest economy adopted a national minimum wage in July 2014. The Confederation of German Trade Unions had struggled for years for the minimum wage.

 

 

From May 2015 all the trade union federations in Nedlac called on workers to give mandates from the factory floor. These mandating processes covered a broad range of issues for debate including questions about: What the national minimum wage would mean for collective bargaining? Whether it would not result in job losses? What the actual figure would be?

 

 

South African workers work long hours but their wages are far below the median wage figure of R3033. A National Minimum Wage which would be pitched significantly above the level of the current median wage would immediately raise the incomes of workers at the bottom half of the wage structure.

 

Based on international experience, the minimum wage would also put pressure on companies to reconfigure the wage structure over time and to reduce the proportion of income of high earners in top positions.

 

 

We have never been under any illusion that R20 an hour would constitute a living wage. However, the Nedlac agreement would lift 6.6 million workers who are currently earning below this immediately.

 

 

As the President pointed out on May Day in Nelson Mandela Bay:

 

 

Even as we were negotiating this, we knew this is not a living wage but we said that we need to form a foundation, so that we can keep going up. The struggle for a living wage must continue but we must start somewhere.

 

 

In February 2017 the National Minimum Wage agreement was signed by all stakeholders except COSATU, who needed to report to its Central Executive Committee before they could sign.

 

The opportunistic political parties and some Johnny-come-lately trade unions have made calls to workers to reject the national minimum wage. Thankfully, the largest trade union federations: Federation of Unions of SA, FEDUSA and COSATU, have pointed out the misleading and harmful nature of this rhetoric?

 

 

The DA has voiced its rejection of the minimum wage as it seeks to perpetuate the apartheid low wage regime that has reproduced the working poor for decades. The DA’s federal congress last month adopted a resolution to allow employees to voluntarily opt out of the national minimum wage agreement. Workers who have voted for the DA in the past need to seriously reconsider their choice in the next election.

 

 

The EFF and UDM have made absurd statements that the minimum wage will ... [Interjection.]

 

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: On a point of order, Deputy Speaker. With respect, it’s improper for a member to mislead the House. [Interjections.] No such resolution was ever taken at the

 

DA conference and I would challenge the member to provide the proof.

 

 

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, not here not now. Proceed hon member.

 

 

Ms T M TONGWANE: The EFF and UDM have made absurd statements that the minimum wage will further entrench poverty and inequality without providing any scientific evidence for these claims.

 

 

The UDM in a feeble attempt to be the mouthpiece of SA Federation of Trade Unions, SAFTU, has suggested that the two- year long Nedlac process ... [Interjection.]

 

 

Mr T RAWULA: Deputy Speaker, I would like to ask if the member can take a question? [Interjections.]

 

 

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, will you take a question?

 

 

Ms T M TONGWANE: No, Deputy Speaker.

 

Mr T RAWULA: Stop talking about EFF on things you don’t know about.

 

 

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No!

 

 

Ms T M TONGWANE: The UDM in a feeble attempt to be the mouthpiece of SA Federation of Trade Unions, SAFTU, has suggested that the two-year long Nedlac process must be restarted in order to accommodate the voice of minority trade unions. We wish to warn our colleagues in other parties and workers in general that SAFTU is using this populist rhetoric to launch its own political party to contest elections.

 

 

The millions of workers trapped in low paying jobs cannot wait much longer for the national minimum wage to be implemented.

Implementation has been delayed because Parliament has had to consider the submissions on the draft bill during the public hearings.

 

 

The submissions from organized labour included closing loopholes that could make it possible for businesses to avoid paying the

 

national minimum wage; fast-tracking farm and domestic workers to also earn the minimum wage and strengthening penalties for businesses that ignore the law, among other submissions.

 

 

The ANC is the home of workers and it will not pander to conservative or populist rhetoric. Thank you. [Applause.]

 

 

Mr W M MADISHA: Deputy Speaker, with respect to the question of minimum wage, Cope is very clear. We say, given: A decade of poor and corrupt governance; of the reckless management and rampant organised looting of our fiscus; of a failing education system; of the wanton mismanagement of our economy for ideological and narrow ends; and of the destruction of conditions conducive for investor confidence.

 

 

We are in a cycle of economic stagnation that breeds unemployment, poverty and inequality. According to the World Bank, 62% of South Africans are either chronically or transiently poor. If we were to have made a significant impact on unemployment, we should have created 1 million new jobs per

 

annum. Only less than 3 million new jobs were established over the past 15 years.

 

 

During the same period, some 8 million and 300 000 matriculants left school and they are not employed anywhere. In fact, since 1990, employment in mining has fallen by almost 30%, and in manufacturing by an excess of 25%. It is a fact, I must say, that unemployment rate in South Africa today stands beyond 40%.

 

 

As matters stand, the average South African is getting poorer whilst our political elite eat caviar and sushi daily. It is the ruling party that is the creator of this unnecessary catastrophic state of affairs. The real and lasting solution lies in creating the right conditions for economic growth and job creation.

 

 

As we stand here today, talking about 20% per hour, we are not raising the fact, but Cope wishes to do that.

 

 

The President of South Africa earns R1 732 per hour - 1732; not 1652! He earns R1 732 per hour!

 

Apart from the matter of a minimum wage, Cope calls for the consideration of the inclusion of the right to decent work within our Bill of Rights. [Time expired.] I wish to emphasise that very many people of country are not even getting a salary but what they are getting in cafes and in restaurants are tips. Yet, here, a President gets all that kind of money. We are in trouble!

 

 

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Madisha, please man. Please man! Go ahead hon Swart! [Interjections.]

 

 

Sesotho:

 

O jele nako! Tsamaya o ilo dula fatshe ntate mane, ka kopo!

 

 

Mr S N SWART: Deputy Speaker, the ACDP recognises the vital role that the national minimum wage can play in reducing poverty and inequality. Whilst it might be less than an ideal living wage, it is to be supported and has been widely acknowledged as an important intervention to assist low paid workers. If properly implemented, it has the potential to lift the earnings of literally millions of low paid workers.

 

The Federation of Unions of South Africa’s, Fedusa’s, Dennis George has said that it, as a trade union, is keenly aware that a R3 500 a month minimum wage is less than an ideal living wage but will certainly lift an estimated 4,5 million workers currently earning below that amount out of abject poverty. That must clearly be supported.

 

 

Of course, a further aim will be also to elevate the domestic worker and agricultural sectors to be on par with the national minimum wage within two years of implementation of the Act and after due research by the Commission.

 

 

On the other side, employers will be able to apply for an exemption similar to the sectoral exemptions that can presently be applied for in terms of section 50 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Various challenges and concerns were raised during the public hearings. The ACDP would like to question the one issue relating to NGOs, particularly those NGOs performing state functions and the impact that the national minimum wage will have on them as mentioned in the Bill.

 

The early childhood development sector is an example where NGOs receive a grant from the Department of Social Development to provide these services. In 2013 – yes, that was five years ago - the average salary was R1 373, which is deplorably low. So, without proper co-ordination across the government and possible increases in these grants, these NGOs will be unable to pay their staff the minimum wage.

 

 

The Shukumisa Coalition of NGOs working in social care sector warned MPs about the impact that this would have on many of their members and on the potential closure of services meant to protect the most vulnerable, including children and the youth. Clearly, we in the ACDP share those concerns and trust that those concerns are being addressed in this Bill.

 

 

We also believe that if widespread fraud and corruption in the public sector is addressed, this will unlock more resources to enable the R20 per hour even to be increased, and for the Extended Public Works Programme also to be included, which only allows R11 per hour at this stage. Whilst there are various challenges it is incumbent upon is as Parliament to finalise the

 

Bill as soon as possible and to alleviate the poorest of the poor. I thank you.

 

 

Mr S M JAFTHA: Chair, nearly 96 years ago, the Rand Rebellion inscribed unmitigated revolution in the struggle of workers’ rights. About 400 workers participated in the strike which culminated in 7 workers losing their lives. As early as 1922, it was clear that the edifice of labour relations was uneven. This episode is a replica of modern South African paradox.

 

 

Our economy is growing at a snail’s pace, and our debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to stabilise at 56,2% in 2022-2023. The Statistics SA survey on Poverty Trends in South Africa between 2006 and 2015 is a clear indictment of the working class. The survey reveals that 55% of South Africans are living below the poverty line

 

 

We are cognisant that since 1993, VAT has not been adjusted. However, we don’t support the scapegoat of the poor and the middle class to clean up the lick-spittle of corrupt politicians. The struggle of the workers is amplified by our

 

domestic challenges. The NDP identifies these changes, in the following:

 

 

Other weaknesses in the South African economy include extreme pressure on natural resources, energy constraints, spatial misalignments and limited access to large markets because of geographical distance.

 

 

It is glaringly evident that when labour is not organised, the plight of the workers worsens. Trade union federations must have the interest of the workers at heart. The investment schemes that trade unions have stake in must be in complete fulfilment of the workers struggle.

 

 

The debate on the national minimum wage must be carefully measured, empirically analysed and practically enunciated. We propose that going into the future, the proposed minimum wage must be benchmarked against the net profits and headline earnings of companies. We argue that trade unions’ investment shares must target ordinary employees.

 

The time has come that we insulate the workers against exploitation. [Time expired.] I thank you.

 

 

Mr D AMERICA: Thank you, hon Chair. The proposed national minimum wage will become one of the biggest barriers for any unemployed person in South Africa to find a job young and old would have no bargaining power to sell their labour.

 

 

This proposed national minimum wage and other labour legislation will protect the employed. There will be no protection for the unemployed. The reality is that the only way to reduce unemployment is by employing the unemployed and allowing them a chance to enter the job market.

 

 

The only person who has the right to decide on the level of his wage is the unemployed. Nobody speaks on behalf of the unemployed; they are voiceless, abandoned by the government and dependent on others.

 

 

The DA believes that we need to grow the economy if we are to absorb the millions of young people who want to work, but cannot

 

find employment. The quarterly labour force survey tells a sad tale of a country that is failing its youth. It states that 63,9% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed and that 42,8% of people between the ages of 25 and 34 are unemployed.

 

 

Every young unemployed person deserves a chance to access the education and job opportunity that is available in our country. Young people in poor communities face a number of obstacles when it comes to accessing jobs. They don’t have the same social networks as young people in wealthier areas and they often don’t have money to access the internet to search for jobs, to print out CVs and to travel to job interviews.

 

 

The ANC is failing our youth. Therefore, the DA pledges its commitment to assist young disadvantaged South Africans in finding work by the following: Introducing a job seekers allowance of R150 per month for all unemployed young person aged between 18 and 34.

 

Secondly, by rolling out a national job centres projects where unemployed people can access job vacancies, undertake online courses and get assistance in preparing job applications or receive employment counselling.

 

 

Thirdly, by introducing a national civilian service to provide work experience for thousands of unemployed matriculants; and fourthly by providing incentives to businesses that employ more young people and those who find themselves in long-term unemployment.

 

 

Chair, noting that the national minimum wage will be bulldozed thought Parliament by the ANC majority, the DA strongly believes that the laws should not prevent people from earning a living on their own terms.

 

 

Over 9 million of our people experience long-term unemployment. They tend to earn less once they are employed and are in poorer health than those workers who have avoided unemployment.

 

Therefore the DA will introduce various incentives and exemptions for employers in order to give unemployed people who have been unemployed for 12 months or more access to job opportunities and work-based skills training.

 

 

Chair, the Western Cape government continuously expend all its energy to create an environment for investment and job creation. The Western Cape currently records the lowest official unemployment rate of 19,5% compared to the national rate of 27%.

 

 

It is clear that this government, in the face of the severest and longest drought on record, continues to create a resilient provincial economy by prioritising job creation, which gives people the opportunity to improve their lives and provide for their families.

 

 

Chair, the unemployed deserve a break. They deserve the dignity that a job will give them. They need to be heard. Most of all, they need a new beginning.

 

The DA is committed to working tirelessly to create jobs for the millions of unemployed South Africans and supporting legislation that protects vulnerable workers. We pledge to give all South Africans that new beginning in 2019. I thank you.

 

 

Ms S R VAN SCHALKWYK: House Chairperson, I think the hon America must go and tell the people of South Africa that what the DA is actually proposing is that new job seekers must be exempted from the national minimum wage, which means that they need to earn below the R20 per hour that is proposed by the national minimum wage.

 

 

Hon Chairperson, to all the workers in the formal and informal sectors ... [Interjections.]

 

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: House Chairperson!

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Schalwyk!

 

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: Would the hon Acting Chairperson be prepared to take a question?

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon member, are you prepared to take a question?

 

 

Ms S R VAN SCHALKWYK: No, Chairperson.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you. Continue.

 

 

Ms S R VAN SCHALKWYK: To all the workers in the formal and informal sectors, a happy workers month. House Chairperson, research from reputable institutions like the World Bank, United Nations and Statistics SA shows that South Africa ranks amongst the countries with the highest levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The South African labour market is still characterised by high levels of these challenges. The triple challenges facing South Africa have their own roots in the apartheid wage structure. The apartheid wages which are a driver of poverty and household inequality stripped the majority of South Africans, mainly blacks, off their rights to dignity.

 

 

The ANC’s commitment to fight unemployment, poverty and inequality through promoting equality and decent work at

 

workplaces is outlined in its 2014 Election Manifesto and include amongst others, the investigation of the modality for the introduction of the national minimum wage.

 

 

The introduction of the national minimum wage by the ANC-led government originally led by hon President Cyril Ramaphosa in his previous capacity as the Deputy President of the ANC is aimed at increasing the earnings of the most vulnerable workers and will at the same time reduce the staggering inequality in the country. It will also aim at restoring worker's dignity irrespective of the kind of jobs they occupy, as well as restoring the basic rights of workers.

 

 

It is known that in many workplaces, especially in the vulnerable sectors, workers are ill-treated and made to believe that the employers are doing them a favour to employ them. In many of these cases, workers are paid below the current sectoral determinations. Even though the employers did not apply for exemptions, workers are working like slaves without enjoying the basic benefits as currently legislated in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act. Workers stay

 

under horrific circumstances as we have seen as the Portfolio Committee on Labour during our oversight visit.

 

 

South African citizens are also deprived sometimes from being employed to low and no skilled jobs because employers prefer to employ foreigners, who sometimes have no valid documentation and work permits and they don't apply to South African basic conditions or labour laws with the threat that if they retaliate they will be deported to their countries of origin.

 

 

Hon House Chair, the principle of universality is central to minimum wage international best practice. Whilst some individuals and organisations may argue that they are not supporting a national minimum wage because the current sectoral determination system is sufficient, it is noteworthy that currently in South Africa, there are approximately 20% of lower wage workers who are excluded from the sectoral determination system. There are industries not covered by the national minimum wage where the minimum wage is as low as R6 per hour. Currently, there are more than 40% of workers earning below the R20 per hour. That hon members, is indeed despicable.

 

If there are indeed employers who cannot afford to comply with the national minimum wage, there is the provision to apply for exemption. There are currently such provisions via the bargaining council agreements as well as the sectoral determinations. This is the most important mediating factor in relation to the risk of job losses. Only a limited number of countries globally, who have implemented the national minimum wage allow for exemptions. This practice is allowing struggling businesses a limited period of relief and to avoid workers from being retrenched. There are even some silly examples already being made by even some hon members with regards to who should be eligible to receive a national minimum wage, referring to people who wash your windows or your car screens at parking.

 

 

The International Labour Organisation, ILO, Convention 135 explains the purpose of minimum wage as constituting one element in a policy designed to overcome poverty and to ensure the satisfaction of the needs of all workers and their families.

More recently, minimum wages have gained popularity as a means to combat wage inequality.

 

The ILO now notes that the purpose of minimum wages is to protect workers against unduly low pay. They have ensured a just and equitable share of the fruits of progress to all, and a minimum wage to all who are employed and in need of such protection. Minimum wages can also be one element of a policy to overcome poverty and reduce inequality, including those between men and women.

 

 

The setting of a minimum wage globally has been effective and when setting at a meaningful level and regularly updated has signi´Čücantly increased the wage earnings of lower-wage workers, example, in Latin America, a 10% increase in minimum wages led to an increase in average wages of between 1% and 6%, with low- wage workers benefiting disproportionately.

 

 

Minimum wages helped to reduce poverty by boosting incomes. This has been pronounced in developing countries with the large amounts of working poor, where many poor people work and where lower end wages are near the poverty line. In Thailand and the Philippines, for example, a 1% increase in the minimum wage has been shown to reduce poverty by 0,5%. Statistics from the

 

National Minimum Wage Research Initiative from Wits forecast for that the poverty headcount is projected to fall by around 2% by 2020. The decline is greater for black South Africans.

 

 

A fall in the Gini coefficient in South Africa is projected. It is well established that in South Africa, access to wage income and poverty go hand in hand. The average size of a household in South Africa is 3,3 persons, but this differs depending on level of income. Poorer households with an average monthly income of R1671 per month, household size is closer to 5 persons.

 

 

Hon House Chairperson, a national minimum wage will impact on poverty through lifting the wages of low-paid workers but not to the extend of increasing it to the level of the living wage.

Clearly, a living wage would be preferable, but this is not the level that can be set through legislation. A living wage and a national minimum wage are two quite separate concepts and instruments which some of our hon members doesn’t understand.

 

 

Minimum wages were set at a meaningful level and regularly updated, have directly reduced inequality in the formal and the

 

informal sectors across Latin America, Indonesia, Russia, China, India and Europe. However, the stagnation or decline in national minimum wage levels like in the United States and Mexico has contributed to an increase in inequality in those countries.

 

 

The ANC’s most effective weapon in the fight against these levels is the creation of decent work and this requires a faster economic growth.

 

 

Hon House Chair, what we as the ANC are saying is that we know that there are indeed individuals out there that will take advantage of discourage job seekers, mostly those who are low skilled and unskilled, and vulnerable and will try to proceed with their exploitative practices while they can afford to pay the required wages but we are warning them, beware, justice will be served on those poor workers. They will be informed of their rights and capacitated to fight for their rights. No more can it be correct that capitalism can strive at the expense of the marginalised and the poor.

 

The freedom that many shed blood, lost lives for and spend many years behind bars like Tata Madiba for included freedom for workers and cannot be in vain.

 

 

I thank you.

 

 

The MINISTER OF LABOUR: House Chairperson, let me assist hon America. The ANC government has programmes that will be able to create jobs in South Africa.

 

 

An HON MEMBER: Where?

 

 

The MINISTER OF LABOUR: Firstly, we have the skills development programme that is funded by the Skills Development Fund through Higher Education and Training. We also have the legislation on Public Employment Services which falls under the Department of Labour, where we deal with the issue of counsellingfor free.

 

 

At the same time we have the Labour Activation Programme that is funded through the Unemployment Insurance Fund. That programme

 

was proposed and agreed to by both organised labour and organised business.

 

 

The President also made an announcement about the Youth Employment Service which is being implemented in this country.

 

 

Let me explain why we have the National Minimum Wage. There is a difference between the National Minimum Wage and the sectoral minimum wages that has been agreed to through collective bargaining.

 

 

Firstly, the National Minimum Wage is intended to support and strengthen collective bargaining. It is the role of the trade unions to negotiate on behalf of workers;

 

 

Secondly, the difference between the National Minimum Wage and the living wage is that, with the National Minimum Wage, we are saying no worker must earn below R20 per hour. The living wage is determined by the conditions at that particular time. That is why we allow the trade unions to deal with the issue of

 

collective bargaining in order to look at the conditions at that particular time; and

 

 

Thirdly, when it comes to the review of the National Minimum Wage by the National Minimum Wage Commission, they will also be looking at the conditions at that particular time and they will come up with the recommendations on how we should increase the National Minimum Wage figure based also on the conditions at that particular time.

 

 

Looking at minimum wages at a sectoral level based on collective bargaining, I wish hon members could research what has been agreed to through collective bargaining.

 

 

For example, in the auto sector, two months ago the trade union that organises in that particular sector signed the agreement where the minimum wage for petrol attendants is around R17,35. At the same time, when you look at the auto sector as well, you will find that the minimum wage based on collective agreement is only R21,90.

 

When you look at the hospitality industry in this country, you will find that workers were paid through tips, and when we introduce this National Minimum Wage all workers will earn according to the agreed National Minimum Wage while the tips will be commission to those particular workers.

 

 

When you look at freight logistics, it’s only R9 per hour. Now, if you are saying that we need to reject the National Minimum Wage, I think you are taking the opportunity away from those workers who will be upgraded, to earn R20 per hour.

 

 

Let me also say that the decision was not taken by the government alone. The discussions were held at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlacwhere organised labour, organised business, a community that consisted of various nongovernmental organisations, NGOs, and government participated. This is a collective agreement through Nedlac’s constituencies. Therefore, we must discard the notion that it’s the government that has just introduced or agreed on this particular issue.

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Minister, do you mind taking a seat? Why are you rising, hon member?

 

 

Mr T RAWULA: House Chair, I want to ask the Minister if she will take a question.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Minister, are you ready for a question?

 

 

The MINISTER OF LABOUR: I will take a question if I still have time but currently I don’t have enough minutes left. I have to clarify some of the issues.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Thank you. Hon Rawula, you may take your seat.

 

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: House Chairperson, can I be second in line for a question as well? Thanks.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I didn’t allow you to speak, so I haven’t heard. Continue.

 

The MINISTER OF LABOUR: There are also members who are saying that we have refused that the new federation has a seat at Nedlac. There is a policy which guides how the federation should apply when they want to have seats at Nedlac. When you look at the registration of the federation that you are talking about

... Of course they were not part and parcel of the discussions at Nedlac because the agreement on the National Minimum Wage was signed in February 2017 while the federation was registered in March 2017. So they were outside that particular space.

 

 

At the same time they have to follow the criteria. They have to submit their membership at Nedlac but it should be verified by the Department of Labour while the organisations at Nedlac must also verify for themselves that those members are really members of that particular federation. At the same time they have to submit their audited financial statements.

 

 

Therefore, based on that — I think they have just finished the year now — they then have to submit all the documents that are needed at Nedlac, and I don’t think there is anyone who will say they can’t participate at Nedlac.

 

When you talk about three thousand five hundred, I just want to caution members that in South Africa in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment, workers work 45 hours a week.

Therefore, when you calculate the National Minimum Wage in terms of the figures, it’s going to be more than three thousand five hundred. The reason why we have said we should have a phased-in approach when it comes to farmworkers and domestic workers, is precisely to allow that gap that the domestic workers and farmworkers are currently earning ... By the way, I hope that all members are paying the domestic workers accordingly. I don’t think you must come to this podium — knowing very well that the culprits who are not paying exactly, even in terms of the sectoral determination for domestic workers — and claim that we are exploiting domestic workers. [Interjections.]

 

 

Also, I just want to say that when we took this decision we had workshops. We even invited some countries where the national minimum wage has been established. For example, when you go to Canada, they have the minimum wage but it is based on various municipalities and provinces. In Mauritius as well, it is based on how the municipality is performing. When you compare our

 

National Minimum Wage with Brazil, India and China, we are far better than them when it comes to what they are paying as their national minimum wage.

 

 

Therefore, what we must understand is that the National Minimum Wage will be the floor, where we say no worker in South Africa must earn less than that amount. Where the minimum wage is higher than the proposed National Minimum Wage in terms of the collective bargaining agreement, that minimum wage will remain as it is. But, the wages of those — that are still earning a minimum wage through collective bargaining — which is less than the proposed National Minimum Wage, will increase in order to be equal to what we have proposed as the National Minimum Wage.

 

 

With those few words, I thank you very much. I’ve got 30 seconds so the hon member can raise his question.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Hon Rawula, you are allowed to ask your question.

 

Mr T RAWULA: Thank you very much. Minister, I hear the point you are raising in terms of the bureaucratic arrangement, where you are saying that the SA Federation of Trade Unions, Saftu, as a federation in South Africa, is outside Nedlac. However, the matters they are raising are disputed matters of mutual interest. So if you ignore them, despite the fact that they are now engaged in rolling mass action that affects the economy of the country, why would you subject them to a bureaucratic process when they form a key stakeholder in South Africa’s civic society?

 

 

The second question I want to raise with you ... [Interjections.]

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): Your time is up. Can we quickly ... quickly ...

 

 

Mr T RAWULA: The second issue I want to raise with you is that there are now employers who, as a result of the minimum wage, are threatening to release employees in the form of short term and also to retrench them with the view of re-employing them on

 

the basis of the minimum wage. What are you going to do because it basically threatens their lives?

 

 

The MINISTER OF LABOUR: House Chair, with regard to the issues that were raised by Saftu, their majority union, which is the National Union of Metalworkers of SA, Numsa, requested the officials from the Department of Labour to address them in terms of what it is that we are proposing. They were addressed, yet they didn’t raise those questions that they are raising in public.

 

 

At the same time we said that those unions that were not satisfied with the processes that happened at Nedlac had the right to come and submit here in Parliament because public hearings were open to everybody. I was informed that they did make presentations here. If you read the code of good practice that was agreed upon by all stakeholders, there were commitments that were made, particularly by employers, in saying that they will never retrench workers based on the introduction of the National Minimum Wage. If you have that information, I will

 

really appreciate it if you can give it to us so that we can follow up. Thank you very much.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): I am very sorry, hon Steenhuisen. We actually gave her time to respond which she went beyond. Next time you will have a chance.

 

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: House Chairperson, this is not fair because the hon member of the EFF was allowed to ask two questions.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): No, he’s the one who asked first. She didn’t even respond. Thank you.

 

 

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: If I had been given my opportunity I could’ve asked about the hypocrisy of the Expanded Public Works Programme, EPWP.

 

 

The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M G Boroto): No, no, don’t; not now!

 

 

Debate concluded.

 

The House adjourned at 16:24.