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President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the National Minimum Wage Bill, which is expected to benefit about 6-million workers that currently earn below R3,700 a month when it comes into effect on January 1 2019.

Business Day understands that the president enacted four labour bills on Friday following heightened pressure by union federation Cosatu to finalise the legislation, especially the minimum wage bill, which Cosatu considers a victory after campaigning for it for years. Critics have warned that the law may lead to job cuts in an economy that is already struggling with unemployment of more than 27%.

The minimum wage law, which was formulated at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), has been in the works since 2015, with parties agreeing to set the minimum hourly wage rate of R20 in 2017. Its initial implementation date was pushed from May 1 following a series of blunders during the bill’s drafting period.

In its initial response to the proposals, the National Treasury warned that the system would affect jobs and the economy in the long term if it were to be implemented recklessly. ….more