President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the National Minimum Wage Bill (NMWB) which sets an historic precedent in the protection of low-earning workers in the country, the Presidency said on Monday.
The NMWB provides a platform for reducing inequality in society and decreasing huge disparities in income at the national labor market, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.
The NMWB will come into force on a date to be determined by the president, said Diko.
The bill sets a floor of 20 rand (about 1.5 U.S. dollars) per hour, or 3,500 rand (about 254 dollars) a month for the majority of the country’s six million workers, more than half of the labor force.
The president’s signing of the bill into law came four years after the National Economic Development and Labor Council (NEDLAC) first began deliberations on the protection of low-paid workers.
Following these deliberations and recommendations by an advisory panel, Ramaphosa has also assented to the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and Labor Relations Amendment Bill which were negotiated by the NEDLAC at the same time as the NMWB, according to Diko.
Taken together, these bills introduce a national minimum wage and provide for the technical arrangements needed to support implementation of the NMWB, said Diko.
The NMWB recognizes South Africa as one of the most unequal societies and notes the need to eradicate poverty and inequality, she said.
Ramaphosa has reiterated his appreciation to all stakeholders engaged in the development of the legislation for their focus on creating a new dispensation for the country’s most vulnerable workers and for bringing South Africa into line with international best practice, Diko said.
The president has also underscored that while NMWB will not end income inequality, it provides a firm and unassailable foundation – which is agreed to by all social partners – from which to advance the struggle for a living wage, Diko said.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the country’s largest trade federation, welcomed the signing into law of the NMWB, saying this is a victory for millions of workers.
COSATU applauded and thanked the president, for his unflinching support in seeing the realization of the NMWB.