Ramaphosa concedes current minimum wage is not enough

The president says while the current minimum wage is too low, it’s the beginning of a journey towards improving the lives of millions of workers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, surrounded by government officials and union representatives, signs the National Minimum Wage Bill into law. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa says the current minimum wage is not a living income but the start of improving the lives of millions of low income workers.

Ramaphosa signed the bill into law in Soweto on Friday which will see it come into effect from January.

This means it will be illegal to pay workers less than R20 an hour.

The president says while the current minimum wage is far too low, it’s the beginning of a journey towards improving the lives of millions of workers.

“R3,500 is not a living wage, it’s a start and everything has to start somewhere.”

Ramaphosa says a balance had to be found to prevent job losses.

“It would not lead to widespread closure of businesses but at the same time, would increase the earnings of as many 6,4 million workers.”

While organisations under business group Nedlac have welcomed the minimum wage, the South African Federation of Trade Unions has rejected it, saying many workers will continue living in poverty.