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COVID-19 hit low-paid workers the hardest - Global Wage Report

The national minimum wage commission has recommended that the rate be increased by CPI plus 1.5% next year, which will bring it to R21,69 an hour.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said adequate minimum wage systems were the key to establishing a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

In the new Global Wage Report released by the United Nations Agency covering the period since the pandemic this year to 2021, it states that while the crisis has led to a decline in wages – the minimum wage has cushioned many workers from dire consequences.

South Africa is reviewing the R20,76 an hour national minimum wage rate, which was implemented in 2019 as the International Labour Organisation once more affirms that the regime has the potential to improve wage inequality, even during the pandemic.

However, while this may ring true for some workers covered in the system, the ILO has also found that low-paid workers recorded the biggest losses in wages since the COVID-19 crisis at 17.3%.

This does not bode well for the country as the majority of workers fall in this category – with over five million of them considered the working poor as they are in jobs which can't keep them and their dependents out of poverty.

The ILO’s director general Guy Ryder said: “The report suggest that adequate minimum wages have potential to reduce both inequality and poverty.”

The national minimum wage commission has recommended that the rate be increased by CPI plus 1.5% next year, which will bring it to R21,69 an hour.

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