Saftu members marching to Civic Centre in Cape Town to reject the proposed National Minimum Wage earlier this year. File picture: Cindy Waxa/ AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ ANA
Johannesburg - Labour federation Saftu says it will keep to its promise and return to the streets to continue the fight against the current R20-per-hour national minimum wage.

The federation says it will embark on bigger strike action and stay-aways to defend the rights of workers and the fight for a living wage.

On Tuesday Parliament passed the National Minimum Wage Bill, along with the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and Labour Relations Bill.

The Bills will now be forwarded to Parliament’s National Council of Provinces and will then be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for signing into law.

The passing of the NMW Bill has been a very contentious issue with a number of organisations speaking out against the R20-per-hour wage.

Saftu held a strike in April speaking out against the legislation saying it was an "insult" to the poor. The federation has also spoken out against the other amendments to labour laws, such as the addition of mandatory strike balloting, which it believes will make it harder for workers to go on strike.

"Saftu will now take its campaign to new levels. The Bills now have to go to the National Council of proves and then to the President, when the federation will again make its voice heard, to demand the repeal these laws and for a living minimum wage of R12 500," said the federation's spokesperson Patrick Craven.

"Then, as promised, we shall hit the streets with even bigger marches and stayaways, to protest not only against these laws, but against all the assaults on our living standards and job security and the increasing arrogance of employers, government and union leaders who, instead of “returning the wealth of the land to the people” are grabbing more of it from the people," said Craven.

When the NMW Bill was presented at the National Assembly on Tuesday, opposition parties spoke against it.

The EFF led the charge and said the wage was far below meeting the standard of a living wage. The EFF and the DA voted against the Bill.

"R20 per hour or R3 500 will not restore the humanity and dignity of black workers, in particular women workers, let alone be decent enough to afford basic necessities for survival. While we don’t oppose the legislation of national minimum wage in principle," said the EFF.

The ANC celebrated the passing of the Bill and said it was a step towards achieving a living wage.

Saftu's rival federations, Nactu, Cosatu and Fedusa, welcomed the introduction of the minimum wage and said this was a first and the beginning of improving the conditions of workers.

Business Unity SA (Busa) said the new labour laws were a signal to a new path towards labour stability.

On the NMW Bill, Busa said it was important that an exemption system be introduced to ensure that companies that could not afford the minimum wage, were able to apply for exemption.

Political Bureau