Minimum Wage Should Include Foreigners – Cosatu Official Neil Coleman


A Cosatu official and spokesman for the labour wage inequality task team at The National Economic Development And Labour Council Nedlac, Neil Coleman shared some sentiments at the meeting on the implementation of the national minimum wage about the attitude of South Africans towards work as he said.

“A lot of South Africans are not prepared to work in construction, hotel, trade, domestic and farms because conditions are so exploitative,” he stated at the conference on the implementation of the national minimum wage yesterday.

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Neil Coleman was quoted as saying that research showed most South Africans were not making themselves available for low-paying jobs and foreigners were taking up the “unwanted” jobs.

He suggested that “If the minimum wage is set at a meaningful level, youth who are unemployed would make themselves available in those sectors at those higher wages”

The Malaysian National Wages Consultative Council representative Shanmugan Thiagarajan said the national minimum wage in Malaysia included foreigners, but employers who chose to employ them were required to pay a levy to the government. This is because the foreign employees do not pay working tax to the government

“Because foreigners do not pay working tax to the government the employers are made to pay the levy on their behalf and this deters employers from employing foreigners over locals,” said Thiagarajan.

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A labour law expert Debbie Collier said the reason for the intervention was to fix anomalies in the labour market.

“Without a national minimum wage, we have high levels of unemployment and an over-supply of low-skilled workers leaves a gap for exploitation,” she said.

Neil Coleman was of the view that the implementation of a minimum wage by the government must be beneficial to all workers, including foreigners, if it is aimed at fighting poverty and eliminating inequality. The presence of the minimum wage will attract the South African youths to those jobs they have avoided thereby reducing unemployment and even crime rate.