Johannesburg - The country's largest labour union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), has thrown its weight behind Wednesday's protected strike called by the South African Federation of Unions (Saftu) to protest the proposed minimum wage of R20 per hour.
The union - which boasts about 340 000 members - said it is calling on all workers to unite for the interest of future generations of workers and "oppose the labour bills meant to undermine the workers' right to strike".
“We reject the insult of R20 per hour slavery wage imposed by the ANC government. This minimum wage is an attack on the working class," Numsa said in a statement.
Government is currently considering the National Minimum Wage Bill, the Labour Relations Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill which are expected to introduce the national minimum wage.
Workers are expected to take to the streets across the country to protest among other things the minimum wage and the recent increase in the value-added tax rate. In Johannesburg, the march will end at the Department of Labour where a memorandum of demands will be delivered.
Unions affiliated to Saftu are opposed to the proposed R20 an hour minimum wage agreement and a raft of other amendments which they say would curb the workers rights to strike.
The regulations were set to be implemented on May 1, but have been postponed due to lengthy parliamentary processes.
Numsa has a large membership in the automotive sector, including at firms such as BMW South Africa, VW South Africa, Toyota, Ford and a number of car components manufacturers.
'Living wage must be R12 000'
“We will not back down until the ANC government introduces the living wage of at least R12 000, as demanded by the Marikana martyrs,” said Numsa secretary general Irvin Jim.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Unions of South Africa has distanced itself from Wednesday's nationwide strike, calling it "self-serving" and "highly irresponsible grandstanding" to undermine the work of unions and business groups which have been involved in the drafting of the bills.
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