McDonald’s South Africa says it is committed to paying a fair wage to all its employees, following the announcement of a new national minimum wage.

McDonald’s employs more than 10,000people in the republic at more than 200 outlets, where reports suggest lowest paid crew members receive R1,047 ($74.43) a month with managers earning R9,584($681)

The company came under fire on social media because of its former business link with South Africa’s Deputy President,who announced the government proposal.

Mc Donald’s is not alone and financial commentators, and even opposition parties in the RSA parliament, believe a minimum wage and stop the creation of more the country desperately needs –where the official unemployment level is 25% (those looking for work) - and cause employers to lay people off.

Jo-Annde Wet, chief operations and supply chain officer for McDonald’s SA said the company took its role in helping strengthen communities seriously and was committed to the well-being and livelihood of all its employees.

She said: “McDonald’s South Africa places the highest importance on its staff. All our labour policies align to the South African Labour Law Act and ensure fair and just remuneration.

“We furthermore strive to remain employer of choice by often exceeding industry standards and the introduction of various career building initiatives within the business.”

According to www.enca.com De Wet could not provide figures for the lowest-paid workers at McDonald’s, data pulled from a jobs site indicated that an average McDonald’s monthly salary ranged from R1,047 a month for a crew member to R9,584 a month for a manager.

The fast food giant already pays better than some of its competitors and benefits from internationally agreed operating practises.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party rejected the proposal, saying that it favoured business at the expense of workers, recognising the potential mass job losses the move could cause.

“Any minimum wage that is below R4,500 will not make any difference to the lives of workers or the resolution of inequality in wages and actual living conditions,” the EFF said.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s company, the Shanduka Group, in 2011 landed the franchise to run 145 McDonald’s restaurants in the country. Under the agreement Ramaphosa owned all McDonald’s assets in South Africa, including property.

He left Shandukain 2014 to avoid any conflict of interest after he accepted the deputy president position that year.

Ramaphosa said experts commissioned by the National Economic Development and Labor Council, which promotes negotiations among unions, government and business, recommends the minimum wage to be phased in over two years, possibly longer.

As part of the deal unions will have to ballot their members before going on strike and that work stoppages shouldn’t be allowed to continue indefinitely. This second move would make the country more attractive to foreign investors it is widely believed.

He has said the R3,500 figure is a starting point for the debate, recognising that implementation could cost more than 500,000 jobs, according to some analysts as businesses cut working hours, staff numbers and perks like medical and housing.

Supporters say a minimum wage would ensure more disposable income to spend and help reduce inequality.

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