Zwelinzima Vavi
FILE: Saftu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN.

DURBAN – President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to say soon when the national minimum wage will be implemented. Union federations say a big challenge lies in the process of the bill being reality.

Ramaphosa is expected to officially announce that from January workers must be paid R20 per hour.

The president signed the National Minimum Wage Bill into law in November along with the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) have expressed different views on minimum wage. They say employers will need to work harder to ensure the bill is implemented.

After several years of negotiations and pushback from civil society groups and unions, the national minimum wage is expected to come into effect in January.

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi maintains that the bill will trap workers in dehumanising poverty, adding that its unlikely businesses will implement this law.

“Businesses have mastered sidelining all the gains of workers because they know the trade union movement has been fragmented, divided and it is now weaker than any other time.”

Cosatu’s parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks says they will be going on a drive to educate their members about what this minimum wage means for them.

Questions around the timing of the president’s announcement have been raised with elections just around the corner.