Labour Minister Oliphant increases farmworkers minimum wage by 7,7 percent in 2015/16

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has announced an upward adjustment to the minimum wage of farmworkers with effect from 1 March 2015.

National Minimum Wage

What is it?

A minimum sum payable to a worker for work or services delivered, within an agreed period of time, which may not be reduced by an individual or collective agreement as stipulated by law. It is guaranteed by law and may be fixed to cover the minimum needs of the worker and his family, according to the current economic and social conditions. In South Africa, minimum wage is legally determined by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act in various sectors.

Background to the National Minimum Wage in South Africa

South Africa is regarded as one of the most unequal countries in the world. The levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment are high. More than half of all households in former homelands depend mostly on social grants. Other forms of social assistance include free primary health care; no-fee paying schools; RDP housing and provision of basic services to households.

South Africa’s high unemployment level is largely due to the slow economic growth. This means that the economy cannot absorb many young and employable people. On the other hand, various people who are employed are considered poor because they struggle to meet their family’s basic needs. This group of people are regarded as vulnerable and their salaries are determined by the Minister of Labour, on the advice of the Employment Conditions Commission, and they include domestic workers; farm workers; security guards and hospitality workers such as waiters.

The Minister of Labour, as leader of the Department of Labour, fulfils an important role in reducing unemployment, poverty and inequality through a set of policies and programmes, such as reviewing a National Minimum Wage, aimed at improving economic success and productivity; employment creation; sound labour relations; removing inequality and discrimination in the workplace; and lessening levels of poverty and unemployment.

Why is National Minimum Wage under review?

In his recent State of the Nation Address, President Jacob Zuma said that a National Minimum Wage would be investigated as “one of the key mechanisms to reduce income inequality”.

A reasonable minimum wage is needed to empower an individual to cover the minimum needs of their family within the realities of national economic and social conditions.

It as a result of this that the Portfolio Committee on Labour has undertaken to embark on public hearings to get the opinion or views of the people affected.

Who is reviewing the National Minimum Wage?

The Portfolio Committee on Labour decided to conduct public hearings. The purpose of the public hearings is to get public opinion on the National Minimum Wage. The decision was informed by section 59 of the Constitution (1996), which states that the National Assembly must facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes of the Assembly and its committees. Hearings have already been conducted in the Western Cape and will be held in all provinces.

How will people benefit?

The biggest benefits associated with a National Minimum Wage are a reduction in poverty and inequality. Additional benefits include:

  • Increasing the standard of living of workers
  • Forcing business to be more efficient
  • Protecting employees from gross exploitation in terms of wages and working conditions
  • Assisting more people to enter the formal job market.

The role of the Portfolio Committee on Labour

Key roles include:

  • To amend South Africa’s key labour laws
  • To pass key labour laws in South Africa
  • To conduct oversight and oversight visits concerning the work of the Department of Labour.

Part of the mandate of the Portfolio Committee on Labour is to review the country’s labour laws, which include:

  • The Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill;
  • The Labour Relations Amendment Bill;
  • The Employment Equity Amendment Bill; and
  • The Public Employment Services (PES) Bill.

How do you voice your concerns and ideas concerning the National Minimum Wage and other labour related matters?

Facilitation of public participation and involvement in the legislative process is central to the constitutional mandate of Parliament. Therefore, public hearings are held to allow for citizens to submit oral submissions concerning a National Minimum Wage. Alternatively, citizens can make a written submission and submit it to the Portfolio Committee on Labour.

For further information please consult the following sources:

Contact details: Portfolio Committee on Labour

For more information you may contact

Telephone: (021) 403 3735(021) 403 3735

Produced by the Public Education Office