JOHANNESBURG: Several thousand South African union members marched in Johannesburg on Wednesday to protest a proposed national minimum wage they called inadequate, presenting a test for President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa sees the minimum pay as an important step to tackle labour instability and wage inequality. He has staked his reputation on revamping a stuttering economy and rooting out corruption associated with Jacob Zuma, whom he replaced as president in February.
The 20-rand ($1.60) an hour minimum wage was approved by the cabinet in November and meant to be introduced on May 1. But a parliamentary committee recently sent the wage bill back to the labour ministry for re-drafting amid disagreements over its contents.
In the commercial hub, Johannesburg, on Wednesday, protesting workers marched to the labour ministry holding aloft placards.“A minimum wage of 20 rand an hour is a spit in the face of the working class. Ramaphosa has sold out workers,” said Moses Modisane, a shop steward for metalworkers union NUMSA who works at an Anglo American mine near the city.
“This is the only way to make our voice heard. We want a decent living wage,” said Theodor Njilo, a caterer earning less than 6,000 rand ($480) a month.