Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has strongly cautioned employers who have recently adopted the practice of dismissing workers en masse only to re-employ them and pay them lower wages at the national minimum wage rate or even less.
Speaking during an hour-long live webcast organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Johannesburg on Thursday, the minister said that government was aware of a new tactic that was quickly gaining traction amongst unscrupulous employers – that of firing workers to undermine the labour laws that sought to address unemployment, inequality, and poverty.
According to Oliphant, the government’s political will is to ensure the tough enforcement of the implementation of the NMW and she vowed that her department would stop these tactics in their tracks in an effort to fulfil that mandate.
“Ours as a government is to strengthen the inspectorate and the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) monitoring roles,” said Oliphant.
During her speech, she also confirmed that government was looking at increasing the budgets of these entities.
In an effort to curb shady labour practices, the department is reportedly already in the process of naming and shaming employers who fail to comply by publishing them on the department’s website – a promise made earlier this year shortly after the announcement of the new NMW.
This fact remains unconfirmed, however, as said list is not easy to find on the department’s website and all attempts to reach departmental spokesperson Teboho Thejane were unsuccessful.
Over 1,300 inspectors have been assigned by the department to monitor compliance with the NMW Act at businesses all over the country.
The Act, which came into effect on January 1 2019, stipulates that R20 is the minimum rate workers should earn per hour. For farm and forestry workers – it is R18.00 per hour, domestic workers R15.00 per hour, and R11.00 per hour for Extended Public Works Programme.
The webcast was organised by the ILO, which is marking its centenary. However, the ILO has been in operation on the African continent for 60 years.