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Mixed reaction from unions, workers on passing of minimum wage bill

Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday passed the contentious bill following months of discussions public hearings and protests from some unions.

FILE: Marchers protest against the national minimum wage on 25 April 2018. Picture: @SAFTU_media/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – There’s mixed reaction from workers on Wednesday morning following the passing of the National Minimum Wage Bill, with some saying it was long overdue and others describing it as disgusting.

Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday passed the contentious bill following months of discussions, public hearings and protests from some unions.

The bill sets minimum wages at R3,500 per month or R20 an hour, except for farmworkers and domestic workers.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) Moleko Phakedi says government is trying to handcuff workers by passing this bill.

“It is expecting to fight against employers who are not willing to come to terms with the argument they’re proposing in terms of wages. The important thing must be understood is that the right to strike is a constitutional right.”

But Congress of South African Trade Unions’ Sizwe Pamla, says Saftu, has misinterpreted the terms of the minimum wage bill.

“We do not want workers to be bullied, to be intimidated and a secret ballot empowers workers because it allows them to be able to exercise that right without fear.”

Democratic Alliance MPs walked out before the vote commenced and the Economic Freedom Fighters rejected the minimum wage, saying it was too low.

However, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant says it’s a step in the right direction.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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