Minimum wage could be on cards in 2016 - Oliphant

Johannesburg - The National Economic Development and Labour Council's (Nedlac's) consideration of the modalities of the introduction of a national minimum wage could be completed next year, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Wednesday.

Addressing Cosatu delegates at the labour federation’s 12th national congress in Midrand, Oliphant said Nedlac discussions on the matter were progressing well, with Cosatu taking the lead. “What is left now is the (national minimum wage) figure,” Oliphant said.

Ahead of the 2014 national general elections, the African National Congress called for the national minimum wage as a measure to, among others, reduce the income inequality in the country and ensure a living wage for all workers.

Oliphant also addressed Cosatu delegates on some of the issues that have raised the ire of workers in South Africa. These include the contentious e-tolls, labour brokers and the proceeds of union investments.

“Maybe Cosatu leaders must start to investigate some of the (federation’s) affiliates partnering with companies using labour brokers. If we do not do that, we will always have complaints that government has not banned labour brokers while at the same time you are working with the labour brokers,” she said.

She was also critical of the investment arms of unions, saying the bulk of the money from the investments does not go to workers. The investment arms of unions, with their multi-billion rand stakes in different companies, have become a bone of contention in some of Cosatu’s member unions.

For instance, a bitter squabble has arisen in the Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood and Allied Workers’ Union (Ceppwawu) over its investment company.

Commenting on the matter, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini referred to “a man” who wanted more than 27% of the financial proceeds from the Ceppwawu investment company. He said that would have amounted to R1.2bn. “We refused,” he said.

Ceppwawu is currently at loggerheads with businessman and former Barloworld Logistics executive Isaac Shongwe, who served as the sole trustee in Ceppwawu's development trust and director of Ceppwawu investment company, over the 27.5% stake.

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