A South African trade union has accused the government of “legitimising poverty” after the country set its first-ever minimum wage.
South Africa Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) said it is outraged and disgusted – but not surprised – by the passing of the minimum wage bill, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by parliament on Tuesday.
The bill sets the wage at a minimum of 20 rand ($1.59; £1.20) an hour, which, for a 40-hour week, sets the wage at about $278 per month.
The union said parliament missed an opportunity to free workers from the oppressive wage gap.
In 2016, a commission led by President Cyril Ramaphosa – who was deputy president at the time – found almost 50% of employed South Africans earned less than the proposed national minimum wage.
The government said it hoped the new guideline would improve the lives of the lowest-paid workers in the labour market and alleviate poverty and inequality.
The wage bill will cover about 75% of farm workers and domestic workers.
The other trade union federation Cosatu, which has formed an alliance with the government, has endorsed the proposal.
The bill will have to be sent to parliament’s upper house before it can be signed into law by President Ramaphosa.