A lot has transpired in the labour front over the past month.  As everyone is aware, the expert working group on the national minimum wage has made a proposal of three thousand five hundred rand per month as a minimum wage across the board for all employees in South Africa.  This sounds drastic and rather sudden but there is a story behind it, which ameliorates the situation somewhat.  Firstly, this proposal is merely that it is a proposal.  This proposal will be sent to the governmental bargaining council known as NEDLAC who will then debate it between big trade unions, big business and government.  Unfortunately, small business has very little input at that level.  Once NEDLAC has debated the issue and have come up with proposals these proposals will in turn be sent to the South African Parliament.  The South African Parliament will instruct the Labour Portfolio Committee of Parliament to debate the issues and to come up with proposals.  The Labour Portfolio Committee will in turn go back to the public for public hearings and will take input from various interested parties.  Only once the public input has been collated and taken into account the labour portfolio committee will refer the matter to the South African Parliament for a debate in the Parliament.  This process could take anything up to two years despite the Deputy President wanting it to be hurried along.

The proposal from the Democratic Alliance and many organizations in civil society is that we pursue a national minimum wage based on each particular sector.  We already have eleven sectors that are governed by a minimum wage and those sectors that fall outside this ambit could then be put together by the Department of Labour and a minimum wage proposed for them.  Already we see some of the labour force being covered by the Ministry of Labour through ministerial wage determinations.  These ministerial wage determinations are for vulnerable workers such as farm workers and domestic workers.

The Ministry of Labour have had a disagreement with the treasury as to whether a national minimum wage would result in job losses.  The treasury said that there would be seven hundred thousand jobs lost to the economy if the minimum wage was implemented immediately.

Even with the proposal from the experts, the experts are proposing that this minimum wage would take about two years to implement.  With inflation etc., this would appear to be a lot more palatable.  It must be remembered that the minimum wage proposed is twenty rand per hour and is calculated on a forty-hour week.  The majority of businesses work on a 45-hour week so in fact the minimum wage is four thousand rand as opposed to three and a half.

It must be remembered that the 27th December is a stated public holiday and anyone working over this particular day would have to be paid double.

The Labour Portfolio Committee in Parliament has just approved a paternity leave and there will be amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and to UIF.  This will probably come in at the end of 2017.  Paternity leave will be ten days and this will be extended to adoption and court order placements.  It will also be extended to same sex partnerships where one of the couple could choose to take the paternity leave and the other the maternity leave.

Cape Town is looking forward to a bumper festive season and already the figures are telling us that we are approximately 12% higher than the previous year with incoming tourists.  This means that there will be a lot of pressure on all the businesses in the Cape who service the tourism industry such as hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, theatres and other tourist attractions.  Those people in the tourism or associated industries will be working hard and long hours but hopefully the rewards will be good.

I wish everyone a peaceful and healthy festive period and look forward to everyone returning to work in 2017 revitalised for an interesting year ahead.