PRETORIA– About 6.6 million workers in South Africa are expected to benefit from the National Minimum Wage when it is introduced, says Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

Speaking during an interview with the Government Communications and Information System (GCIS) here Monday, she added that through the Ministerial Sectoral Determinations, there are 4.5 million workers who are currently being paid under the determinations.

Workers who are not even organized in South Africa are more than 2.4million …. immediately after the implementation of the National Minimum Wage, about 6.6 million [workers] will be able to benefit from the National Minimum Wage, Oliphant said.

The National Minimum Wage Bill, currently before Parliament, proposes, among other things, that the National Minimum Wage level be set at 20 Rand (about 1.65 US dollars) per hour and be reviewed annually. However, the minimum wages for domestic and farm workers will initially be set at 15 and 18 Rand an hour respectively, and will be adjusted to reach the National Minimum Wage within two years of implementation.

Oliphant said there is a commitment by employers, organized labour and the community, which consists of various non-government organizations (NGOs) to support the National Minimum Wage.

Employers have committed to not retrench any worker based on the National Minimum Wage. Those are the positive relations that we have established at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) constituency level, she said.

When the National Minimum Wage is introduced, exemptions will be available to sectors, she said, adding that those seeking exemptions must apply for it and discuss it with their workers.

If you are applying for an exemption currently, because we have not yet finalised the regulations regarding the National Minimum Wage, you need to discuss it with the workers, that as an employer you cannot afford to pay. When you are exempt, it doesn’t mean that you are not going to pay those people completely. You must state how you will pay those people, in order for them to be on the same level as everybody, she said.

She said if workers and the employer agree on obtaining an exemption, there must be a petition signed by the workers agreeing to be exempt from getting paid the minimum wage for a certain period. Employers seeking exemption must provide their financials for two years to show that they cannot afford to pay the minimum wage.