Domestic workers unions have slammed the government for what they say was discrimination of their members as they once again were left out on the national minimum wage increment. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency
Domestic workers unions have slammed the government for what they say was discrimination of their members as they once again were left out on the national minimum wage increment. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency

Domestic workers unhappy about annual wage increase

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Mar 3, 2021

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Cape Town - Domestic workers unions have slammed the government for what they say was discrimination of their members as they once again were left out on the national minimum wage increment.

This as the national minimum wage for each ordinary hour worked took effect on Monday from R20.76 in 2020 to R21.69. Domestic workers received a R19.09 increase from R15.57 last year.

United Domestic Workers of South Africa president Pinky Mashiane said the union was disappointed that domestic workers continued to be paid less compared to farmworkers.

“We are concerned about being left out again, while farmworkers got R21,69 like all other workers. We are still discriminated against and classified as if we are less than all other workers. The government says we will only be equally included in 2022, but why not now. The government is failing to recognise and formalise the domestic work sector.

“There was no explanation from the National Minimum Wage Commissioner on why domestic workers were still at a lower level and why they think they will only qualify next year. We have to fight for everything, write petitions and make submissions because that is how the government is treating us,” she said.

Mashiane said labour movements such as Cosatu and Naptosa were taking significant decisions at Nedlac without consulting the domestic worker unions and their members.

“This R21.69 is not even a living wage, but a slavery wage. If the government is failing to formalise and recognise the sector, this gives the employers an opportunity to exploit the workers by underpaying and overworking them,” Mashiane said.

South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union organiser Gloria Kente said following the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act court victory they were still awaiting a signature from the labour minister.

“This actually shows that when it comes to domestic work issues, the government always drags its feet. During the lockdown, thousands of our members lost their jobs and struggled to even receive the UIF Ters benefits. Applications were made online which was an insult to the sector and exposed how poor the workers are as they had no access to smartphones to the internet,” she said.

Kente said the unions would make submissions to the labour department while embarking on education and awareness campaigns for domestic workers.

Cape Argus

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