Weigh in on the wage debate

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani.

City Press and The Chris Hani Institute are marking this historic date on our still fledgling democracy’s calendar with a series of talks about the issues that matter.

The five debates, which begin tomorrow at 3pm at Cosatu House, invite thought leaders, firebrands, thinkers, experts and you to start the debate.

“The biggest challenge a democratic South Africa will face,” Hani said, “is socio-economic restructuring; the creation of jobs, building of houses, schools, medical facilities, overhauling our education, eliminating illiteracy, building a society which cares, and fighting corruption and those moving into the gravy train of power to enrich themselves.”

Professor Edward Webster, director of the Institute, says: “Twenty years after his assassination we would like to honour his life by running a series of public debates on how we can accelerate sustainable socio-economic transformation.”

For City Press the priority is creating spaces for the free flow of ideas and the solutions they bring.

For the first debate – Minimum Wage vs Slave Wage – we host the Free Market Foundation’s Temba Nolutshungu and Cosatu General Secretary Zwelenzima Vavi to duel over the contentious issue of the minimum wage.

Vavi says: “The call for a national minimum wage in the Freedom Charter is yet to have effective meaning for at least 44% of the workforce. The Cosatu Collective Bargaining Conference resolved to engage urgently with government on our call for a legislated National Minimum Wage to be introduced by 2014.”

Nolutshungu says: “Those who argue against minimum wage legislation are seen as cold, uncaring and insensitive to the ‘exploitation’ of others, no matter how reasoned their arguments may be. They are accused of countenancing ‘starvation wages’. This emotional stance blurs the argument as to whether people should, as a right, be allowed to work on terms based on their own subjective preferences according to their personal socio-economic circumstances.”

What do you think? To come and add your voice to the debate RSVP 42987. Please include your name and contact details.

» The Chris Hani Institute – in keeping with the beliefs Hani lived and died for – describes itself as “a progressive left think tank to conduct political education, research and to promote working class ideas. Furthermore it will promote working class culture and history both past and present. The Institute must serve as a conduit for left ideas and a network for activists, academics and other progressive minded individuals/movements to share ideas and knowledge.”

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