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South Africa: Parliament okays minimum wage bill

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South Africa’s Upper House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces (NCP), on Tuesday approved the controversial National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill which will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.

The Parliament said the NCP approved the bill without amendment.

The bill, which Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, introduced in November 2017, aims to provide for a NMW and the establishment of a commission with clear functions and composition for implementation, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

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The National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) had earlier approved the bill and referred it to the NCP. Once signed by Mr Ramaphosa, the bill will become law.

The bill sets 3,500 rand (about 243 U.S. dollars) per month or 20 rand (about 1.4 dollars) per hour for over six million working people in the country.

Trade unions have lambasted the NMW as “slavery wage,” saying the working class cannot make both ends meet with the meagre NMW.

In May, massive protests against the bill took place across the country.

Trade unions have threatened to stage more protests if the NMW wage is not raised to a living wage.

The government says setting the NMW was informed by research and robust analysis of various scenarios and their possible ramifications, not by some idealistic desires.

All social partners have worked hard for nearly three years to reach agreement on the NMW to improve the conditions of millions of poor families, according to the government.

Mr Ramaphosa has pledged to increase the NMW over time in a way that meaningfully reduces poverty and inequality.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Abiy Ahmed wins the 2019 Nobel Peace Award

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for immersly efforts to end two decades of hostility with longtime enemy Eritrea.

Though Africa’s youngest leader still faces big challenges, he has in under two years in power begun political and economic reforms that promise a better life for many in impoverished Ethiopia and restored ties with Eritrea that had been frozen since a 1998-2000 border war.

“We are proud as a nation,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement, hailing a “collective win for all Ethiopians, and a call to strengthen our resolve in making Ethiopia – the new horizon of hope – a prosperous nation for all.”

It said the prize was meant to recognize “all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.”

The Nobel Committee’s decision appeared designed to encourage the peace process, echoing the 1994 peace prize shared by Israeli and Palestinian leaders and the 1993 award for moves towards reconciliation in South Africa, said Dan Smith, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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