November 26, 2018 / 12:22 PM / 18 days ago

South Africa's Ramaphosa signs minimum wage bill into law

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the national minimum wage bill, his office said on Monday, part of efforts by the government to tackle wage inequality in Africa’s most industrialised economy.

The National Minimum Wage Act sets South Africa’s minimum wage at 20 rand ($1.45) an hour, equal to 3,500 rand per month. The law will come into force on a date to be determined by Ramaphosa, the presidency said.

Supporters of the minimum wage say it will reduce inequality and stimulate economic growth as workers spend more.

But critics say it could lead to increased unemployment, already at record highs, because some employers won’t be able to afford higher wage bills.

Thousands of union members protested against the proposed minimum wage in April, saying it was too low.

Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement that while the national minimum wage will not end income inequality, it was a first step towards addressing the clamour for a living wage.

Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by James Macharia

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