JOHANNESBURG -  Labour federation Congress of South African Trade Unions said on Tuesday it was disappointed that parliament and the government would not be ready to implement the long delayed national minimum wage by May 1.

Labour Minister Mildrend Oliphant said on Monday her department would not be able to implement the National Minimum Wage Bill on the set date because the parliamentary process on it would not be completed by then. South Africa has been working on a national minimum wage since 2014.

Oliphant said the process, which has involved high volumes  of both written and oral public submissions‚  was now entirely in the hands of parliament.

Cosatu said it had repeatedly raised its concerns that the delays in negotiations at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and parliament were putting the 1st of May implementation date at risk.

"We have requested several critical amendments to be made to the national minimum wage bill during the parliamentary public hearings," Cosatu said.

"These amendments are aimed at ensuring there are no loopholes for business to avoid paying workers a national minimum wage, to ensure that farm and domestic workers are fast tracked to a NMW, to ensure that workers receive above inflation increases in the NMW yearly, to protect sectoral determinations and to strengthen penalties for businesses who ignore the law."

The National Minimum Wage Bill together with The Labour Relations Amendment Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendments Bill were referred by the cabinet to parliament in November 2017 and are currently being considered by parliament's portfolio committee on labour.

Cosatu said it had always felt that insufficient time was given to parliament to pass these three critical bills.

"We then requested that Parliament give the processes a few extra weeks to do justice to this process," it said. 

"This will help ensure that our amendments are included in the bills and that the processes are protected from possible court challenges by those who oppose giving workers a national minimum wage."

The national minimum wage envisages that farm workers and domestic workers get a rate of R18 per hour and R15 per hour respectively and that this be raised to R20 per hour within two years of implementation.

 African News Agency/ANA