While Cosatu and the Federation of Unions of South Africa welcomed the passing of the National Minimum Wage Bill by parliament this week, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) is preparing to fight it with mass mobilisation that will culminate in a two-day national strike.
The legislation, which seeks to introduce a minimum wage of R3 500 per month or R20 an hour, is headed for the National Council of Provinces before it would be sent for signing by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
But yesterday Saftu deputy general secretary Moleko Phakedi said the new federation would embark on a national strike because it believe the wage was tantamount to a slave wage.
The federation said it would intensify its campaign against the Bill, along with the legislation that required workers to undertake a balloting process before embarking on a strike.
Saftu is not represented at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), while both Cosatu and Fedusa are members. Nedlac is a platform for labour, civil society, business and government to deliberate on socio-economic matters.
Saftu accused Cosatu of selling out the right of workers by agreeing to the minimum wage. The new federation, which demands a R12 500 minimum wage, recently organised its first national strike against the wage and its legislation.
The South African Liberating Public Service Worker Union (Salipswu), a Saftu affiliate, yesterday condemned the decision of parliament to pass the Bill. Salipswu general secretary Thobile Ntola said the union members were outraged by the passing of the legislation.
“As an affiliate of Saftu, we believe this wage does not address poverty experienced by workers, especially when you look at the recent increase in VAT and many other problems facing the working class in general … We can’t encourage people to be paid a poverty wage,” Ntola said.
Saftu’s Phakedi said they would soon embark on another national strike to voice their opposition to the Bill. “We’re going to have two to three days strike action, for government to realise workers and working class will not fold their arms when they’re being attacked.”
Besides the Bill, the National Assembly also passed The Basic Conditions of Employment Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill on Tuesday.
Cosatu’s biggest public sector union, The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union, has welcomed the passing of the Minimum Wage Bill. Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said the wage will go a long way toward improving the living conditions of the six million workers who currently earn below R3 500 per month.