Minimum wage plan faces resistance

MINIMUM WAGE: While unions are opposing the proposed minimum wage, the Department of Labour said the interest of workers are paramount. Picture: Supplied

The Department of Labour will today halt the process of public input on the proposed changes to various labour laws in order to accommodate the national minimum wage (NMW).

This comes in the face of fierce opposition to the scheme from unions.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) yesterday spelled out nine reasons for rejection of the proposed changes to legislation related to the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, both of which sought to accommodate the NMW which is set to be implemented in May.

Stakeholders were consulted by the Department of Labour last year before the introduction of the NMW which was set at a rate of R20 an hour or R3200 a month.

This came with different conditions, however, Numsa was adamant that the NMW would reverse the gains of workers and the policy needed to be more sector specific as those sectors which make more money needed to pay their workers more. This would be in accordance with “a fair NMW.”

Among the nine reasons Numsa had issues with, was that of “a limitation to strike”.

“We reject the proposal for the implementation of secret ballots during strikes because it is a cleverly disguised way of attacking our constitutional right to strike. The South African working class fought and died under this right to strike and will fight any attempt to undermine this right,” Numsa general secretary, Irvin Jim said.

The chief director of labour relations at the Department of Labour, Thembinkosi Mkalipi said the alleged limitation to strike was in the wake of strikes often turning violent.

“Everyone has the right to strike, however if the strike is violent and prolonged that is when a limitation to strike is applied. We don’t see anything wrong as this would be within the constitutional provision,” Alkali said.

Mkalipi said the department was considerate of the well-being of workers when proposing the changes.

Numsa expressed dismay that the proposal grants the Minister of Labour the power to get a court interdict to suspend a lengthy strike.

“The purpose of this proposal is to ensure that workers do not have the power to bring the bosses to their knees,” Jim said.

Refilwe Magashule