State’s shocking pay rates

2013-02-04 00:00

GOVERNMENT departments have been paying workers in official public works programmes as little as R30 a day.

The revelations come on the eve of an anticipated announcement of a new official minimum daily wage of R105 for farm workers.

Figures for the Expanded Public Works Programme — a government job creation initiative — for the six months ended in September last year (the most recent available figures) show that the wages paid by the state are often even lower than the minimum of R66,34 a day prescribed for the expanded public works programme.

Even that minimum rate is lower than the R69 minimum that farmers are currently expected to pay farm workers. Among the worst offenders are the Limpopo education department where some 4 000 projects produced an average daily wage of just R34,28, while Limpopo’s safety and security department paid only R30 per day for jobs in its public works programmes.

In Gauteng, 900 “work opportunities” produced an average daily wage of R30 too, a figure echoed in the Free State health department.

Social development in the Western Cape was the province’s lowest payer with a daily rate of R56,98.

(See table for more provincial examples).

In the agricultural sector, workers in the expanded public works programme are paid an average of R77 — significantly less than the daily rate for farm workers the government is expected to announce. Farmers have warned that the new rate could see 100 000 jobs lost in the industry.

The national Agriculture Department declined to comment and referred queries to the Labour Department.

Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) spokesperson Kgomotso Mathuloe confirmed that all the public bodies involved in the programme were expected to pay the minimum R66,34 a day.

She said the EPWP unit was in talks with the various departments to ensure uniformity and compliance regarding wage rates.

“The wages vary across the different provinces. The wage rate is affected by the socio-economic conditions in the different areas. Compliance varies across different public bodies, but government is committed to ensure that there is compliance,” said Mathuloe.

Adcorp’s labour market analyst, Loane Sharp said these figures were a clear indication that the concept of government creating employment was flawed.

“The low pay rate indicates how expensive it is for government to create jobs. The only real prospect of sustainable jobs comes from the private sector. But the private sector won’t create jobs unless labour laws are relaxed,” said Sharp.

He said the government was not tackling the real cause of unemployment, which was labour law and instead focused on “sideshows” like the wage subsidy, jobs fund and job seekers fund.

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