Johannesburg – A national minimum wage will be a central discussion at the upcoming labour indaba, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said on Saturday.

“Most workers are not aware of their rights. Minimum wage also does not mean workers should be trapped into earning the minimum wage in perpetuity,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery.

She was speaking to 700 domestic workers during a meeting in Galeshewe near Kimberley, Northern Cape.

A labour relations indaba – convened by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa – is set to be held on November 4.

Oliphant said that the Portfolio Committee on Labour had already started its public hearings and the department was in the process of hosting its own, in order to gather input on the national minimum wage framework.

“As the department of labour we are having all these public participation programmes to enable workers to tell us their problems and provide possible solutions.”

She said that in terms of legislation, domestic workers had a right to annual, maternity and compassionate leave, a minimum wage and other worker rights.

“The workers should be appreciated…[for] what they are doing,” she said.

The domestic workers’ current three-year sectoral determination which governs minimum wage and conditions of employment ends on November 30.

Currently, the minimum wages stipulated for domestic workers working in major cities and for more than 27 hours per week, must be R9.63 per hour or R433.35 per week for a 45 hour week and R1 877.70 per month, for a 45 hour week.

Minimum wages for those working in smaller towns and rural areas are R8.30 per hour or R373.50 per week for a 45 hour week and R1 618.37 per month for a 45 hour week.

Oliphant said South Africa had 657 000 registered domestic workers in its Unemployment Insurance Fund database and some 646 578 employers.

However, she said the numbers were a drop in the ocean, as there were many more unregistered workers and employers in the sector.

Domestic workers were set to benefit from amendments to the unemployment insurance fund legislation, said the minister.