AIDC Statement: a National Minimum Wage? – We need to be treated as humans

The Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC), welcomes government’s intervention in implementing a national minimum wage but we vehemently reject the stipulated R3500 because it undermines the value of human life and dignity.

NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE:
A national minimum wage is not the panacea – the silver bullet, that solves all societies problems, but it can be a pro-worker, bottom-up policy and approach to growth and development. A national minimum wage has the potential to:

  1.  reduce poverty
  2. reduce inequality
  3. improve economic development
  4. increase the average national wage from the bottom

However, the recent announcement that the national minimum wage will be set to R3500 is an insult to the poor. Considering the cost of living in South Africa, R3500 is not a living wage, in fact it is not even an appropriate minimum wage.

The setting of the national minimum wage to R3500 will do very little to alleviate any of the pressures faced by the vast majority of South Africans today.

living-wageWE NEED TO BE TREATED AS HUMANS:
It is this need that is incompatible with the system based on an insatiable drive towards profit maximisation. Provided that the labour is available and at the mercy of capital, there is no bottom line when it comes to cheapening the means of production and thereby enhancing profit and securing competitiveness. No matter how poorly paid they are, when workers ask for a better wage, it is considered too ‘expensive’ especially when other workers work for even less.

This is the race to the bottom made inevitable by the logic of capital that sees workers as mere instruments of production or sources of profit.

AIDC advocates for the need to effect a dramatic shift in direction – one that begins to give meaning and content to the incomplete struggle against apartheid and for democracy, by forging a just transition to a low carbon, wage led, sustainable development path.

  • In addition to a minimum wage, we need to agree on things such as regular upward evaluation. Historically, many countries agrees on a minimum wage and this wage is devalued because of inflation, when government does not increase it annually.
  • We need to emphasise that employers must not see a minimum wage as “the wage”. Some workers may find a downward spiral of income because they are way above the minimum wage.
  • We need to move towards a living wage. For many years, workers have been fighting for a living wage. Every worker should be getting a living wage. A living wage is defined by workers in particular sectors, for e.g. Lonmin workers – R12500, Robertson Winery workers – R8500 etc.

Click here for more information on the national minimum wage. 

Posted in AIDC

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