Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Tuesday said it was "disgusted by the DA’s [Democratic Alliance] resolution to allow employers to ‘opt out’ of the National Minimum Wage if they wish to do so, in order that they may be paid less".
At the weekend the DA proposed at its conference over the weekend that unemployed workers would be given a Job Seekers Exemption Certificate (JSEC) to allow them to enter into contracts which would allow the employer to pay less than R3 500 per month - the stipulated minimum wage.
The first-ever national minimum wage that was supposed to be implemented in May has, however, been delayed and no new date has been announced.
A statement issued by acting national spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, said Numsa rejects the DA proposal "with the contempt it deserves".
"What the DA is saying is that it wants to take advantage of the poverty and desperation of unemployed workers by allowing bosses to exploit them with slave wages for a period of two years. It demonstrates what we have always said, which is that the ANC [African National Congress] and the DA are ideologically one and the same," claimed Numsa in a the statement.
"The ANC’s current proposal on the National Minimum Wage already allows employers to be exempted from paying the poverty wage of R20 per hour.
"Clearly the DA believes that the poverty wage of R20 per hour or R3 500 per month is too high and would prefer that workers work for free! The DA has always been unashamedly pro-business and it supports the rampant exploitation of African workers. They know that the poverty wage of R20 per hour will be reserved only for African labour.
"The employers can continue to earn massive salary packages at an average of R69 000 per day, whilst workers must exist on a measly R20 per hour. They have always defended White Monopoly Capital and it is not surprising that this is their position."
In another development, Numsa said it was gearing up for a mega national general strike on the 25 April 2018.
"Together with SAFTU and 20 other organisations, Numsa will be joining workers as they go on strike to #DefendTheRightToStrike and to demand a living wage. This is the only weapon we have to fight against a government which is attacking workers and their families by changing the labour law," said the union in the lengthy statement attributed to its president, Andrew Chirwa.
"Numsa urges all workers to join in this struggle and join the protected strike. We must withdraw our labour in order to #DefendTheRightToStrike. We are deliberately choosing to strike on the eve of Freedom Day because we must remind the state that the working class which made the ultimate sacrifice to end Apartheid, is still not free in South Africa.
"We call on all workers, organised or unorganised to withdraw their labour on the 25th of April. This may be the last time we are legally able to go on a protected strike. The certificate covers all works in all sectors and it is a protected strike. We must defeat our oppressors the way we defeated Apartheid."
African News Agency/ANA