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TLU SA is still against a minimum wage system in South Africa because it contributes to keeping people outside of work and debilitates the economy.

The Department of Labour this week officially announced the increased minimum wage which will come into effect on 1 March 2020. The increase of 3,8% brings the minimum wage for farmworkers to R18,68 per hour, but is far below the 12,5% unions were holding out for. In contrast, the unemployment rate for the fourth quarter in 2019 stood at 29,1% last week. Around 40% of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 34 are unemployed.

“The ANC and its alliance partners do not care about the economy or unemployment in the country, but only act in the interest of their members,” says Mr Louis Meintjes, the president of TLU SA. “The limitation of a minimum wage deprives a person who is willing to negotiate for their wage, of a job opportunity.

“If someone is willing to work as a farmworker for R2 500, for example, instead of the forced R3 360 per month because that is what the farmer can afford, you are giving that person the dignity not to be dependent on a grant or begging to survive,” says Mr Meintjes. “When more than one person in a family can work, the combined income of that family is, of course, higher than when only one person in the family can work for a higher rate.

“Contrary to popular belief, farmers do care for their workers and do want them to have better lives. But making it more difficult to employ more workers, is counterproductive.”

The focus on absurd wages impairs the employer who cannot afford it, the employee who cannot be employed and the economy which doesn’t show local growth. A minimum wage system can only be a useful tool for upliftment in a stable economy. With the current South African policies and economy, it only contributes to unemployment and dependency on social grants.