The Forestry Industry is currently subject to the minimum wage and conditions of employment set out in Sectoral Determination 12 for the Forestry Sector. Once the NMW comes into effect, DoL intends to phase out our and all other Sectoral Determinations. This is highly concerning. Read the article that appeared in today’s Business Day, on this matter. FSA referred to this in our submission to the Portfolio Committee on Labour in Parliament on Thursday last week, as did others who made submissions on that day. Others have obviously also raised this matter in their respective oral submissions.
Sector wage determination ‘must stay’ after minimum wage becomes law
26 MARCH 2018 – 05:53 LINDA ENSOR
Critical: Cosatu’s top leaders plan to meet Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Strong opposition has been expressed in Parliament to the abolition of sectoral wage determinations once the minimum wage bill becomes law.
Parliament’s labour portfolio committee is holding public hearings on the National Minimum Wage Bill and related amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Act.
The removal of sectoral determinations, a measure introduced by the Department of Labour and not as a result of negotiations within the National Economic Development and Labour Council, will hit farm workers particularly hard.
A researcher with the National Minimum Wage Research Initiative at the University of the Witwatersrand, Gilad Isaacs, said in a submission to the committee on Friday that sectoral determinations, which govern non-unionised sectors, were an important tool to protect the most vulnerable workers and to reduce poverty and wage inequality.
DA labour spokesman Michael Bagraim agreed that the provision for sectoral determinations should remain on the statute books.
Sectoral determinations are set by the minister of labour on the recommendations of the Employment Conditions Commission (ECC).
A proposed amendment to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act would remove the possibility of updating existing sectoral determinations and to institute new ones. It also stipulates that for only three years following the commencement of the minimum wage act, wages set by sectoral determinations that are higher than the minimum wage must increase proportionally to any adjustment made to the minimum wage.
“It is commendable and appropriate that the national minimum wage creates a single wage floor irrespective of levels previously stipulated in the sectoral determinations,” Isaacs said. “However there is no reason to believe even through concerted effort by the Department of Labour and social partners that any of the conditions [of vulnerable, non-unionised workers] will change with the introduction of the national minimum wage, or be eradicated within the three-year phase-out period.” He said the original motivation for the institution of sectoral determinations therefore remained.
Furthermore, the abolition of sectoral determinations would remove a tool to protect workers earning more than the national minimum wage.
Cosatu, the Federation of Unions of SA and the National Council of Trade Unions have proposed that the National Minimum Wage Commission take over the function of the ECC and undertake an annual review of the minimum wages and conditions set in a sectoral determination. The commission would make recommendations on adjustments to the minister.
“Without this arrangement, workers covered by sectoral determinations currently will suffer from a vacuum left by the repeal of the ECC and the sections of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act dealing with sectoral determinations,” the union federations submitted.
Isaacs also objected to the exclusion of independent contractors from the definition of worker in the bill tabled in Parliament, though the Department of Labour has indicated the intention is to include them.
He said the inclusion of independent contractors was especially important given the changes in the labour market, which have seen the expansion of part-time employment, outsourcing and casualisation.
“South Africa should be a global leader in the protection of workers’ rights, not reinforcing an outdated notion of ‘employee’ that does not take cognisance of the changing nature of work globally,” Isaacs said.
Also of concern, Isaacs added, was the limited protection provided in the labour bills against casualisation. He recommended that workers working less than 27 hours a week should receive one third more than the national minimum wage hourly rate.
The rate for workers on the expanded public works programme should be set as a percentage of the national minimum wage instead of at a set R11 per hour and mechanisms should be put in place so it reaches the minimum wage over a defined period of time.
Learnerships should also not be excluded from the national minimum wage.
Source: Forestry South Africa