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Minimum wage not a magic wand, says Cosatu

Cosatu says the minimum wage is not a magic wand that will make all worker problems magically disappear, but it will have a huge impact on workers.

FILE: A small group of Cosatu members singing and dancing outside the Cosatu House in Johannesburg's CBD. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says the National Minimum Wage Bill is not supposed to be a “living wage”, but a tool to address poverty.

The trade union federation has made another submission to Parliament on Tuesday, but this time in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

This follows public hearings and the passing of the bill in the National Assembly in May.

The NCOP is currently considering the bill, which will set the minimum wage for workers at R20 an hour or R3,500 a month.

Cosatu says the minimum wage is not a magic wand that will make all worker problems magically disappear, but it will have a huge impact and push up low wages inherited from the apartheid economy.

Cosatu’s parliamentary coordinator Mathew Parks says: “We know the minimum wage is not a living wage… it’s not meant to be that. It's meant to be the floor below which no workers must be paid with a few select options. But it’s an ideal, powerful tool to help address poverty. We have massive levels of poverty. We have an unequal society... for historical reasons. We think it [minimum wage] will also help to push up the low wages inherited from apartheid economy.”

Cosatu, which has made a joint submission with the Federation of Unions of South Africa and the National Council of Trade Unions, has now called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign the bill into an enforceable law before the end of the year.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

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