Numsa repeats warning that proposed new labour laws will lead to ‘slave wages’

Numsa repeats warning that proposed new labour laws will lead to ‘slave wages’

Protesters during a march in the Johannesburg CBD by Saftu during their general strike held on the 25th April 2018. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

The union says the national minimum wage bill will do nothing to undo that legacy of unequal pay gaps between black and white people.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Wednesday it was concerned that the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), to which it is affiliated, and other workers’ groups had been excluded from making submissions to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on contentious new labour legislation.

Numsa reiterated its position that proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the proposed National Minimum Wage Bill – if passed in their current form – would result in workers being paid “slave wages”, and that it would be harder for them to embark on legal strikes.

“It is clear from the proposed laws that the ANC-led government wants to silence the working class by denying them their constitutional right to protest,” it said, adding the conditions that would be created for workers under the laws would be similar to those that prevailed during apartheid rule that discriminated against nonwhites.

It said other labour organisations, including Saftu, had not been adequately properly notified that the NCOP committee on economic and business development was receiving submissions on the proposed labour laws, and had as a result missed the deadline.

“The consultation process has been improper and inadequate. The majority of workers have not been consulted on these laws, and yet the state intends to implement them anyway,” it said.

Unions have rejected a proposed minimum wage of R20 an hour as inadequate, among other controversies around the new labour proposals.

“In South Africa today African [black] households earn five times less than white households and the poverty national minimum wage bill will do nothing to undo that legacy,” Numsa said.

It said it backed Saftu’s call to mobilise workers to reject these new laws, and that it would be involved in “intensifying mass action all over the country against this unrelenting attack on our hard-won rights as labour”.

“The ANC-led government would not be in power if it had not been for the power of the working class,” said Numsa.

“The working class paid the ultimate price to end apartheid, and we refuse to suffer under the burden of poverty, inequality and unemployment any longer.”

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