Cape Town – A coalition of workers’ rights organisations, unions and civil society has lodged a legal submission with the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Commission, arguing against the exclusion of domestic, farm and Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers.
With the support of Lawyers for Human Rights, the One Wage Campaign has also urged the public to sign a petition endorsing equality for all workers.
The campaign said while legislation set a minimum wage of R20 an hour for most workers, farmworkers were entitled to 90% of the NMW (R18 an hour), domestic workers to 75% (R15 an hour), and workers in the EPWP had the right to 60% of the minimum wage (R11 an hour).
Although the NWA allows for the possibility of phasing in domestic and farmworkers’ earnings at 100% of the minimum wage by the end of 2020, it does not require this , nor does it make such a provision for EPWP workers, they said.
“The commission is obliged by the end of 2019, a few short weeks away, to make recommendations to the Minister of Employment and Labour about adjustments to the NMW.
"The One Wage Campaign submits that the 2020 adjustments must recognise all workers as equal under the law,” the campaign said.
The campaign referenced the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group’s latest Household Affordability Index, that showed if a worker were to cover the three core goods and services of transport, electricity and a basic nutritional food basket in November 2019, then the NMW would have to be increased to R24.65 an hour, with workers engaged in their jobs for the maximum working-day month.
“However, even this increase is inadequate as families have much more expenses than these to cover, such as rent, toiletries and school fees, etc.
"If the full minimum wage of R20 an hour isn’t enough to even cover these three core costs, what about those who are earning even less?” the campaign asked.
Department of Employment and Labour spokesperson Teboho Thejane said the submission had been forwarded to the commission, and due diligence was being done.
Find the One Wage Campaign petition at