DA: Blanket minimum wage not feasible

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday that it supported the broad idea of a minimum wage, but insisted a blanket implementation is not practical.

Leader Mmusi Maimane addressed the media for the first time following the party’s federal congress last week, and took the opportunity to clarify its position on the national minimum wage debate.

Maimane said that while the DA supported the need for its implementation, it could not get behind a blanket wage. Rather, each sector should determine the appropriate minimum amount that workers should be paid.

“As a broad principle we accept the need for a minimum wage, but it must be sectorally determined. Opposed to a universal wage,” Maimane said according to Eye Witness News.

The labour department announced last year that Cabinet had approved an across-the-board R20-an-hour minimum wage.

Last month, however, Parliament’s labour committee admitted that the proposed date of implementation, May 1, was not attainable. No new deadline has been set.

Parliament’s labour committee will host a string of meetings this week to consider public input on the matter.

DA MP and labour spokesperson Michael Bagraim echoed Maimane’s sentiment. “We are of the view that a blanket minimum wage is not feasible, despite its political expedience for the ruling party,” he said according to Paul Herman.

Bagraim also emphasised that wage talks do nothing for the 10-million jobless South Africans.

Wage opposition

The debate came under the spotlight once more last week when the South African Federation of Trade Unions marched to Parliament to demand that the wage be scrapped in its current format because it is too low.

General secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the federation will make the country “ungovernable” on May 1 should the federation’s demands not be met.

He also called out President Ramaphosa for abandoning the workers he once fought for.

“We are saying to Cyril Ramaphosa, take that R20 … you can find a space behind the beds of your buffalos and you can put that R20 there,” Vavi told the crowd of hundreds.

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian

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