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Black Agenda on Work and the Minimum Wage

By BO Staff Writer

Yesterday, the Deputy President, main negotiator in the sellout CODESA negotiations and the leader of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) advisory panel on a national minimum wage, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a proposal for the national minimum wage to be R3 500 a month and R20 an hour.

While announcing the appalling amount, Ramaphosa said that the national minimum wage was not a “living wage, and we need to be clear on that; we need to (do) a lot more … But this is an attempt in dealing with unemployment, wage poverty and inequality.”

In the planet of staunch capitalists, where our Deputy President clearly resides, dealing with “unemployment, poverty and inequality” requires further dehumanising black people (the people who will be affected by a minimum wage most and who earn at the lowest bracket of the income gap) by proposing a minimum wage that institutionalises exploitation.

One wonders why a man who facilitated the killing of 34 black workers in Marikana, because he was denying them a living wage, would be tasked with heading a task team for a NMW. True to his spirit of killing black people for profits and to continue entrenching the power of white capital, Ramaphosa and his team had rating agencies in mind while considering the decision to cap the wage at R3500. Ramaphosa said the proposed wage is adequate because ratings agencies want a situation where capitalists can exercise their capitalism free of wage strikes.

The Black First Land First movement suggested in its Black Agenda on the minimum wage to increase the wage to R12 500, the level miners in Marikana died for. The proposal has a black socialist approach in mind (advocating for a living wage that doesn’t allow for the continued exploitation of black labour). The BLF proposal is essentially anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist in that it advocates for wage which will allow for self-determination for black people and for them to participate fruitfully in the economy and in their everyday lives.

Below is the Black Agenda on Work and the Minimum Wage:

The ANC led government has maintained a poverty level minimum wage which continues to discriminate against workers and adversely impact on the living conditions of the country’s black majority.

White families earn six times more than what black families earn. To this end the average annual income of a black family is a meagre R60 000, whereas a white family earns an income of R360 000 per annum. This is compounded by the fact that on an average a black family is comprised of 6 people while a white family constitutes about 3 people.

An International Labour Organisation analysis suggests the world gender wage gap to be an average of 22.4% and puts South Africa’s to be at 33.5%. This indicates that the gender pay gap is increasing and that women are earning on average 33.5% less than men.

What Is To Be Done?

Increase the minimum wage to R12500.00 per month after deductions and without exemptions. An annual increase in the minimum wage to be linked to average earnings. All workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness and holiday rights from the first day of employment. Enforcement of equal pay between the genders!

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