Minimum wage a ‘political game’
IOL Business - Nov 10th 2014, 09:36
Cape Town - The start of public hearings on a possible national minimum wage yesterday turned into something of a political spat, with the DA calling the process a “political game” on the part of the ANC.
The countrywide hearings, organised by Parliament’s portfolio committee on labour, started at the Gugulethu Sports Complex yesterday.
A second day of hearings at the Paarl East Thusong Centre is planned for today.
Lumka Yengeni, the committee’s chair, said the hearings would take place in all nine provinces and would most likely finish by June next year.
Ian Ollis, the DA’s committee member, said the process would cost R7.2 million, to which Yengeni responded that the budget had not yet been confirmed.
Ollis stated that the ANC was using the public hearings to “show they care about workers”.
“The ANC is using this as an electioneering campaign, especially in the Western Cape. We do not have a draft policy or regulations yet on a minimum wage.
“I’m concerned we’re giving people false hope. We should have waited until we had a proposal and then asked for public comment.
“This is a waste of time. It’s a political game.”
Ollis said a minimum wage could have disastrous consequences for small businesses, which “could collapse” as they would not be able to afford to pay the proposed salaries.
Yengeni countered that Ollis and the DA “would rubbish anything the ANC is saying”.
“It’s not only ANC members who are getting slave wages. The crowd that the DA rents when they go for marches, that crowd sleeps without food. They earn slave wages,” she said.
“Ollis is not talking for the poor. He is talking for the rich. If it (the DA) cared about the poor, it would be concerned that the wage gap should be done away with. They would be caring about people in townships.”
She accused the DA of “surviving on distortions”.
Domestic workers, security guards, and unemployed locals told the committee about how they were exploited.
They called for a monthly minimum wage of R5 000.
Domestic worker Bukelwa Mnweba said she earned only R560 a month.
Nontando Mhlabeni said foreign nationals were willing to work for R800 a month, making it difficult for locals to negotiate for better wages.
“How can you take a job for R800 a month? You have families and you need to eat. Foreigners take these jobs because they come here with only a bag on their backs,” she said.
She also blamed trade unions for encouraging workers to stay in jobs even if they earned low salaries. From © Independent On-line 2013. All rights reserved.
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