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10 September


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The MisundersTood MiniMuM Wage in South Africa

Aalia Cassim, Ben Jourdan and Kavisha Pillay, Development Policy Research Unit

This report was featured as a chapter in “GLOBAL WAGE DEBATES: POLITICS OR ECONOMICS?” a joint report co-authored by the global partners of JustJobs Network.

 Overall, much is misunderstood about minimum wages within South Africa. Workers’ unions within the country lobby for doubling or even tripling the current minimum wages and claim that no adverse effects to employment or the economy would result. Some employers’ organisations believe that minimum wages should be abolished completely, and that the free market should set wages. These two policy stances represent opposite ends of a spectrum of opinions in South Africa. Yet they share common characteristics: they are unrealistic and would both be detrimental to the economy and social well- being of the country’s poor population.

This report seeks to provide clarity on the topic of minimum wage legislation by contextualizing the debate and detailing sector-specific empirical evidence of minimum wage legislation’s impact in South Africa given the country’s unique historical, social and economic context. It then outlines policy recommendations based on the core concerns around minimum wages in the country.


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