President Cyril Ramaphosa is confident that the national minimum wage‚ which he spearheaded‚ will be implemented – but only after a few minor issues have been addressed with alliance partner Cosatu.
Speaking to journalists shortly after a three-hour meeting with Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee at its Braamfontein head office on Tuesday‚ Ramaphosa said there was broad support within the alliance for the process of legislating for a national minimum wage to go ahead.
“On the implementation of national minimum wage‚ where there are issues that still need to be tweaked and crossed‚ Cosatu is going to be able to do that. But the process is moving ahead with the full participation and support of all of us‚” he said.
Although government is assured of Cosatu’s support‚ the new kid on the block‚ the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU)‚ is vehemently opposed to the R20 per hour‚ or R3 500 per month‚ that has been set as the national minimum wage for workers on a 40-hour week.
SAFTU members disrupted a sitting of the Parliament’s portfolio committee on labour last week‚ which was to discuss the national minimum wage bill.
Members of Cosatu’s central executive committee welcomed Ramaphosa with song as he arrived to address them in the morning. The labour federation was one of his loudest backers leading up to the ANC conference that elected him president.
Ramaphosa spoke of strengthening the alliance ahead of the general elections next year.
The ANC and its alliance partners Cosatu‚ the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) will hold a political council soon where these and other issues will be discussed in detail. The last time the alliance held a political council‚ unhappiness over the leadership of former president Jacob Zuma was high on the agenda.
This time around the alliance will use the gathering to iron out minor disagreements that still remain‚ such as the hiking of VAT to 15% and the call to completely ban labour brokers.
Ramaphosa said there was no alternative for the alliance but to engage each other on a regular basis.
“Our engagement even on issues we may not see eye to eye on should never (lead to) the alliance being weakened. It should actually be even more strengthened because we are campaigning alliance‚ we are a governing alliance that needs to deal with issues and lead our people‚” he said.
Cosatu general-secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said they were looking forward to the political council‚ where they will have more time for discussions on areas of disagreement.