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Cosatu: We have no mandate to sign minimum wage deal

The union has pushed for a higher minimum wage but business says a minimum wage could see jobs being lost.

FILE: Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says it had to pull out of Tuesday’s national minimum wage signing ceremony, because the agreed rate of R20 an hour is below the minimum that it had been given as a mandate by workers.

The Presidency says Cosatu was responsible for the ceremony not going ahead on Tuesday after the Business Day newspaper said labour and business, along with government, had agreed to the rate at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

Cosatu and other unions have pushed for a higher minimum wage, but business says a minimum wage could see jobs being lost.

The union’s Sizwe Pamla says they couldn't sign this agreement on Monday, because they don't have the mandate to sign a deal at this rate.

“We have a responsibility to go and report to the CC before signing, because if Nedlac had achieved the 4.5 mandate it would be easier for us to sign the deal.”

Meanwhile, the National Employers Association's CEO Gerhard Papenfus says he doesn't know how they arrived at this level.

“I don’t think this is scientific, and we know that minimum wage is meaningless as far as wages are concerned for employers who are already paying more but it will have an impact on those who are paying less.”

It’s been reported that President Jacob Zuma was planning on announcing the agreement on the minimum wage during his state of the nation address on Thursday.

The association also says the agreement will lead to jobs being lost.

However the head of the national minimum wage initiative at Wits University, Gilad Isaacs, says it's unlikely that people will lose their jobs.

“What we see is that there is various ways in which firms will adjust and compensate in increase of productivity, small rise in prices and production in product margin.”

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