South Africa

South African Labor Unions Reject 5% Minimum-Wage Increase

South Africa’s biggest labor unions rejected a government proposal to increase the national minimum wage by 5%.

Organized labor at the National Economic Development and Labour Council — a bargaining forum that has government, business, labor and community representation — wants wages raised by at least 12.5%, Sizwe Pamla, national spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

The unions want pay to take account of inflation in the three years since an initial agreement was reached on wages, Pamla said. That accord set minimum amounts of 20 rand ($1.37) per hour for general workers, 18 rand for farm workers and 15 rand domestic workers.

The initial agreement was reached in March 2017 and average annual inflation was 5.3% in that year. The rate dropped to below 5% in 2018 and reach a nine-year low of 4.1% in 2019. The central bank, which has flagged wage growth as a risk to price stability, aims to anchor inflation expectations close to 4.5% and its forecast shows the rate remaining near that until at least the end of 2022.

The groups comprising Cosatu, the country’s biggest labor group, the Federation of Unions of South Africa and the National Council of Trade Unions also requested that farm, domestic and public-sector workers receive higher increases to reduce any possible gaps between their pay and the national minimum wage, Pamla said.

South Africa officially introduced a national minimum wage in January 2019 to protect workers from “unreasonably low wages” and promote collective bargaining.


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.