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Minimum wage increases will be through collective bargaining: Department of Labour

Feb 9, 2018
Minimum wage increases will be through collective bargaining: Department of Labour

Once the national minimum wage (NMW) comes into force - wages above the national minimum wage will be increased through collective bargaining said Department of Labour Director of Collective Bargaining, Thembinkosi Mkalipi.

According to the national minimum wage Bill every employer may not pay wages that are below the minimum wage; the NMW cannot be varied by contract, collective agreement or law.

The Bill further states that NMW constitutes a term of the worker’s contract except to the extent that the contract provides for a more favourable wage. The Bill further states that it is unfair labour practice for an employer to unilaterally alter hours of work or other conditions of employment in implementing the NMW.

Mkalipi said the minimum wage once it comes into force it will affect all workers who work in South Africa. 

He was addressing a Department of Labour briefing session to inform trade unions/shop stewards on the implementation of the NMW and amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Labour Relations Act (LRA), the coming into effect of the Accord on Collective Bargaining and Industrial Action and the Code of Good Practice on Collective Bargaining, Industrial Action and Picketing.

The latest briefing session was held today (08 February) at Premier Hotel Regent in East London.

Mkalipi said the NMW was an outcome of a compromise.

He said: “There are things in this Bill that business does not like, and there are things in this bill that labour does not like. This Bill is an outcome of a compromise. It is an agreement of win-win; and lose-lose for all parties. At Nedlac we managed to strike a balance in that while we do not destroy jobs we also save jobs”.

The National minimum wage is set for implementation from 1 May 2018. The agreed national minimum wage at Nedlac is pegged at R20 an hour for major sectors, with the exception of sectors such as farm workers, domestic workers and expanded public works programme workers. 

Responding to a question on the assessment of accuracy of applications for exemptions, Mkalipi said the Department of Labour was developing an online system to help analyse data submitted by employers when applying for NMW exemptions.

He said exemptions were not new as the Department was currently dealing with them on sectoral determinations. He cautioned employers of serious consequences in the case of misrepresentation of facts.

The worker engagement/briefing sessions started on 9 November 2017 in Johannesburg. The national briefing sessions have been held in Pretoria, Cape Town, George, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Durban, Tzaneen, Polokwane, Mbombela, Emalahleni, Klerksdorp, Rustenburg, Bloemfontein, Welkom, and Umtata.

The last briefing session in the Eastern Cape on NMW, amendments to BCEA and LRA will be held tomorrow (09 February) in Port Elizabeth at Boardwalk Casino, Beach Road Summerstrand. 

The briefing sessions on NMW and amendments to labour laws are held from 10-13:00.