Domestic workers’ unions slam national minimum wage
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CAPE TOWN - Domestic workers should earn at least R5 000 or R6 000 a month, unions have said in response to the government’s call for representations for possible adjustments to the current National Minimum Wage (NMW).
It was announced in February that the NMW for each ordinary hour worked would be increased from R20. 76 to R21.69 for this year with effect from March.
For domestic workers the increase went from R15. 57 to R19. 09, which was rejected by unions saying it was “slavery wages”.
“We want the same NMW of the country, no difference. Domestic workers cannot survive on the wages that they earn,” South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (Sadsawu) general secretary, Myrtle Witbooi, said.
“Take into account that many lost their jobs and are working fewer days.
“The Covid-19 pandemic had a big impact on the lives of domestic workers,” said Witbooi.
She added that many workers were also scared to use public transport like buses and taxis given recent incidents of violence, so their expenses had gone up to make use of e-hailer services instead.
“They also have to pay extra for school transport. So our fight remains for a living wage for all, at least R25 an hour and or R5 000 (a month) minimum.”
The NMW Act of 2018 instructs the NMW Commission to annually review rates and make recommendations to the Minister.
United Domestic Workers of South Africa (Udwosa) founder, Pinky Mashiane said a living wage was something above R6 000.
“A living wage to me is something above R6 000. If they can give R30 an hour from next year, but we know they won’t.
“What we're expecting is for domestic workers to get what everyone gets from next year.
“That means that the Department will close the gap between what domestic workers get and what other workers get, the R19.09 and R21.69.
“It’s also a fact that this NMW is not a living wage, it’s slavery wages but to underpaid and exploited domestic workers at least it’s something.
“Also to employers who are still treating domestic work as informal and unrecognised work, they can see that the sector is recognised, they must just comply.”
Comments and representations should reach the department by October 1, 2021 via Employment Standards, Department of Employment and Labour, Private Bag X117, Pretoria, 0001 or be sent to [email protected] .