Durban - The minimum wage for domestic workers will be increased next month, but analysts have mixed views on whether the pay rise will impact positively on the lives of workers.
The Department of Labour announced the wage hikes on Monday which include an 8% to 10% increase for domestic workers, depending on the hours and areas in which they work.
Department spokesman Mokgadi Pela said the increases would be effective from December 1, and until the end of November next year.
In terms of the Domestic Sectoral Determination, an employee who works more than 27 hours in Area A should be paid not less than an hourly rate of R11.44, while an employee who works less than 27 hours should be paid not less than an hourly rate of R13.39.
An employee who works more than 27 hours in Area B should be paid a minimum of R10.23 per hour, and an employee who works less than 27 hours should be paid not less than R12.07 per hour.
Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action researcher, Julie Smith, said the baseline salary was low and the increase was not enough for domestic workers to live a dignified life.
“Domestic workers tend to live in single-income households,” she said.
She said the current cost for a basic monthly food basket was R1 638.36, while a nutritionally balanced food basket cost R2 713.34.
Smith added that other factors to consider were transport and that not all domestic workers were employed the whole month and often worked once or twice a week.
Freemarket Foundation labour economist Loane Sharp questioned the idea of a minimum wage.
“The Department of Labour is naive in thinking that wages can be raised by government edict independent of the level of skill of domestic workers.”
He said although the decision might be politically popular, it would have a devastating impact on the least skilled.
“Over the last decade, the number of domestic workers has fallen from 2.1 million to 1.3 million. Even those figures don’t tell the full story,” Sharp said.
He said a decade ago the majority of domestic workers worked full-time.
“Today more than 60% of domestic workers work on a part-time basis with no food or lodgings provided by employers,” Sharp said.
He said the government also failed to realise that the work done by domestic workers was broader than just cleaning.
“They often have to do budgeting, child minding and supervise homework,” he said.
Organiser for the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers’ Union, Gloria Kente, said she could not comment because the union would only review the wages at the beginning of December.
Areas define salaries paid
* Area A is defined as falling within the following municipalities: Bergrivier, Breederivier, Buffalo City, Cape Agulhas, Cederberg, City of Cape Town, City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane, Drakenstein, Ekurhuleni Metro, Emalahleni, Emfuleni, eThekwini Metro, Gamagara, George, Hibiscus Coast, Karoo Hoogland, Kgatelopele, Khara Hais, Knysna, Kungwini, Kouga, Langeberg, Lesedi, Makana, Mangaung Metro, Matzikama, Metsimaholo, Middelburg, Midvaal, Mngeni, Mogale City, Mossel Bay, Msunduzi, Mtubatuba, Nama Khoi, Nelson Mandela, Nokeng tsa Taemane, Oudtshoorn, Overstrand, Plettenbergbaai, Potchefstroom (Tlokwe), Randfontein, Richtersveld, Saldanha Bay, Sol Plaatjie, Stellenbosch, Swartland, Swellendam, Theewaterskloof, Umdoni, uMhlathuze and Witzenberg.
* Area B includes all areas not mentioned under Area A.