The South African government has raised the national minimum wage by 8.5% to R27.58 per hour, effective from March 1, 2024, putting to spotlight the country's stagnant sector based meagre minimum wage.

According to South Africa's government gazette, this wage increase was included for domestic and farm workers. This means, if the lowest paid worker worked eight hours a day and 20 days a week the new minimum wage would effectively take earnings to around R4 412.80 monthly.

The minimum wage in eSwatini is E1,500 for domestic employees and E1 800 for all other workers.

However, many employees earn less than the minimum wage due to informal employment and other factors, resulting in wages that are often inadequate to cover the cost of living in the country.

eSwatini’s minimum wage rate currently stands at E531.60 for a domestic worker, E420 for an unskilled worker, and E600 for a skilled worker; these were set in 2011 and have been adjusted according to the cost of living.

Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) Secretary General Mduduzi Gina has however indicated that they have managed to fight for a wages regulation councils to oppose the wages regulation orders in order to make wages better for employees.

He said they want bargaining councils where unions in the sector negotiate with the employer directly without the involvement of the government.

He said the difficulty in getting a fair wage for everyone is the structure of the wages council where the agreement in done via voting and one cannot even strike should there be a disagreement.

"In the present set up when we negotiate for wages and we are expected to vote, government always votes with the employer. Government always votes with the employer. It is for that reason that we are calling for industrial bargaining councils s that we can get good minimum wage," Gina said.

He indicated that in 2018 when they calculated what would be a good minimum wage would be E3 500 and a living wage of E5 000. He said they made this proposal to government and was being discussed at the Labour Advisory board.

He said presently the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had been engaged to scan other jurisdictions in order to enrich discussions about the minimum wage in the country.

A minimum wage is defined as the lowest wage permitted by law or by a special agreement (such as one with a labour union). The minimum wage is dependent on demographic and social attributes of each unit of labour and also on the sector of employment.

A national minimum wage, on the other hand, is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to.