- The United Domestic Workers of South Africa (Udwosa) has called for raising the minimum wage for domestic workers
- However, political parties like the DA oppose such a move
- They argue that raising the minimum wage will lead to greater unemployment
Domestic workers gathered Church Square in Pretoria recently to express concerns regarding their working conditions and pay.
One of them, Pinky Mashiane, a founding member of the United Domestic Workers of South Africa (Udwosa), claimed that domestic workers were being discriminated against, according to the Mail & Guardian.
Another domestic worker at the gathering, Savy Mafindo, told the New Frame that she wants greater government intervention so that domestic workers can have better working conditions.
In particular, several of these workers complained that R15 an hour was not enough, suggesting that R20 or R30 an hour would be more appropriate.
The issue of minimum wages is a complex one and continues to divide Parliament. While the ANC has expressed support for such a move, the DA has opposed the proposal of a R20 an hour minimum wage across the board.
The party's leader, Mmusi Maimane, has said on several occasions, including during an interview with Eusebius Mckaiser, that minimum wages protect the employed at the expense of the unemployed.
Additionally, the economic forces that explain why wages are so low in many sectors will not easily be addressed by minimum wage legislation alone, according to Dieter von Fintel, an economist at Stellenbosch University.
It's a simple case of supply and demand. For instance, unemployment is high (standing at 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019). This means that there are many jobless workers competing for employment, which thus exerts downward pressure on the wages for those jobs. In a situation such as this, a higher minimum wage might actually lead to fewer jobs.
In other words, there are arguments both for and against minimum wages - and few easy answers.
However, there are measures other than minimum wages which may help workers as well. For example, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (Coida) was recently broadened to cover domestic workers, Briefly.co.za has gathered.
This means that domestic workers who are injured at work will receive compensation.
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