10 February 2021
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) is deeply disappointed with the new Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) earnings threshold that has been frugally adjusted upwards from R205 433.30 to R211 596.30 a year, with effect of 01 March 2021 as gazetted by Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi on Monday, 08 February 2021.
This paltry increase of only R6 163, equivalent to 3%, is below the current consumer inflation of 3.1%. FEDUSA considers this move as an indefensible austerity measure in view of the fact that the threshold has been stagnant for seven long years, going back to July 2014; and in the context of current COVID-19 hardships.
This double edged social injustice by a Department that is supposed to be an ally of the working class is deepened by a raft of exclusionary BCEA provisions such as those relating to ordinary hours of work (section 9), overtime (section 10), compressed working weeks (section 11), averaging hours of work (section 12), meal intervals (section 14), daily and weekly rest periods (section 15), pay for work on Sundays (section 16), pay for night work (section 17(2)) and pay for public holidays where the employee works on a day he/she would not ordinarily work (section 18(3). By implication, this prescribes that workers earning above the threshold will not be entitled to overtime pay nor double pay for Sunday work or public holidays.
There is no other way to describe this modern day draconian approach, as “throwing workers under the bus”. This new threshold simply opens a vast window for undue exploitation underpayment and downward variation of worker’s rights, especially those in continuous operations such as overnight public transport services and mining, which constitutes the vast majority of FEDUSA members. The silence around the seven years that the threshold has not be reviewed, despite many appeals from FEDUSA, is alarmingly deafening.
Not just disappointing but insulting and deliberately prejudicing workers and robbing them of what little disposable income they have, after attempting to recover from the icy grips of COVID 19. This injustice will surely not be left unchallenged. The underlying problem is an outdated economic system that is on an irreversible downward spiral. If that is not adequately addressed, the woes of workers will only become worse, concluded Ajam.
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
Mr Ashley Benjamin
FEDUSA Deputy General Secretary
083 258 4433
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096