We welcome the signing of the Minimum Wage Bill into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Our firm was appointed by Nedlac to draft the Minimum Wage Bill as well as the amendments to the Labour Relations Act, which also came into effect today.
The Minimum Wage Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill were passed by Parliament as a response to current challenges facing workers and employers, and give us a snapshot of the issues faced by both.
South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world, with inequality taking on racial and gender dimensions – the greatest income gap is between white males and black females, despite affirmative action legislation. The wage structure remains stratified and unequal, and the labour market is characterised by high levels of unemployment and poverty.
South Africa’s labour law is still about trying to address the socio-economic problems facing the country. The fact that the State has had to intervene to set a minimum wage of R20 per hour underlines the challenges we face.
Most employers should not be concerned about its introduction, as one would expect they already pay in excess of the minimum. The only exception will be unscrupulous employers exploiting the most vulnerable workers.
As far as the changes to the LRA are concerned, if they lead to more orderly collective bargaining and protected strike action free of violence and intimidation, the changes should be welcomed.