Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday warned against “angst” over the proposed introduction of a national minimum wage.
Ramaphosa said a decision on a national minimum wage would only come after thorough consultation.
“Minimum wages in other countries have actually gone to an extent of reducing inequality, they’ve gone to an extent of reducing poverty and we need to look at this without fear, without angst,” Ramaphosa told reporters in Cape Town.
“We need to embrace this debate with the hope that it will yield good results for all of us.”
President Jacob Zuma announced during his state-of-the-nation address that the viability of introducing a national minimum wage would be probed in a bid to reduce high levels of inequality in South Africa.
Last week, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said government was weighing the merits of a sectoral minimum wage versus a national minimum wage.
Ramaphosa said the issue of a national minimum wage was not unique to South Africa.
“Many countries in the world are beginning to go towards a minimum wage dispensation,” Ramaphosa said.
“In the US exactly the same thing, a number of countries in Europe, Brazil…have already gone in that direction.”
A decision could only be made if consensus was reached at the National Economic Development and Labour Council.
“There will need to be a balance. We will need to take each other’s interests into account,” said Ramaphosa.
While trade union federation Cosatu had welcomed the introduction of a minimum wage, some economists warned it could have an adverse effect on employment. SAPA