Asanda Matlhare
Intern Journalist
2 minute read
21 Dec 2021
6:40 am

‘We are not respected,’ say domestic workers on proposed minimum wage hike

Asanda Matlhare

Economist and trend analyst Bronwyn Williams added she was unsure if now was the right time for wage increases, especially because the ailing economy was yet to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Picture: iStock

While trade union federation Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) welcomed the proposed increases for the national minimum wage (NMW) and domestic workers for 2022, the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (Sadsawu) remains dissatisfied.

Sadsawu secretary-general Eunice Dhladhla said domestic workers were always considered last in wage negotiations.

“I am not happy,” she said. “The increase is just a drop in the ocean because it is as if they do not care about us. What I do not understand is people who work in labour and make these negotiations, how do they agree to such little increments because we have families to support.

“Most domestic workers are single parents who are bread winners in their families so R19.09 to R23 for domestic workers is nothing.”

ALSO READ: Cosatu wants quick implementation of proposed minimum wage hike

Economist and trend analyst Bronwyn Williams added she was unsure if now was the right time for wage increases, especially because the ailing economy was yet to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

“Increases on minimum wages do have an impact on the employment levels in society; we have to ask ourselves as society if that is a tradeoff worth taking on because there is obviously massive inequality in our economy.

“The catch is, of course, if wage increases are forced onto a sector where you already have cash-strapped consumers who, perhaps, think having a domestic worker is becoming a luxury,” she said.

Williams asked: “Is it accurate and fair on the economy at large to be looking at aboveCPI [consumer price index] increases for certain sectors of employers, particularly when you have many people who work in the public and private sectors who are still dealing with salary knocks at the moment.”

ALSO READ: Majority of public-sector unions accept government’s interim wage offer

Domestic worker Florence Sosiba said: “The increase from R19.09 to R23 means we are not respected. Negotiators should have included us in their discussions and understood that we also have homes and families to support.”

The NMW Commission proposed a CPI-plus-1% increase.

“If CPI remains at 5%, this could mean a 6% increase in the NMW, from R21.69 to R23.”

The commission also recommended the equalisation of [the six million] domestic workers, who are currently pegged at 88% of the NMW – an increase from R19.09 to R23 for domestic workers.

– asandam@citizen.co.za