The first minimum wage regulation in South Africa goes into effect on Tuesday, 8 January, with President Cyril Ramaphosa saying millions of workers would be better paid.
Times Live reports the implementation of the Minimum Wage Bill is part of Ramaphosa’s strategy to ready himself and his ruling ANC for for “a tricky election in May with the economy struggling for growth”.
As unemployment remained at a record high of 27% last year, the economy only grew by 0.7%.
Trade unions have been split over whether to support the minimum wage, which has been set at R20 an hour.
“Millions of South African workers will benefit,” Ramaphosa said in his New Year message. “This is the result of many decades of tireless struggle and is a powerful demonstration of the shared resolve of all social partners to tackle poverty and inequality.”
The Minimum Wage Bill faced fierce criticism from the political opposition and some labour unions.
The DA voted against the bill. The opposition party argued the bill was rushed through parliament and could lead to 750,000 job losses.
The EFF also rejected the bill saying the minimum of R3,500 a month was too low.
The SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has labelled it a “slave wage”. But Cosatu said 6.4 million workers would benefit and hailed it is as “a major cash injection into workers’ pockets”.