Picture: THINKSTOCK

ESTABLISHING a national minimum wage is a good entry point for dealing with SA’s extreme economic inequality and poverty‚ Oxfam SA said on Tuesday.

Oxfam was welcoming the appointment of its economic justice programme head‚ Ayabonga Cawe‚ to the minimum wage advisory panel announced by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The panel‚ which will advise the government on setting an appropriate national minimum wage and comprises economic experts‚ was made public on Sunday.

"The issue of the minimum wage is a very important one in a country like SA, which is battling serious poverty‚ inequality and unemployment. If addressed properly‚ a reasonable minimum wage will go a long way in uplifting the lives of people living in poverty in the country‚ including women‚" Oxfam SA said in a statement.

According to the organisation‚ statistics show that women are paid poorly compared with their male counterparts‚ for doing the same job with the same skills level. It added that women were also over-represented in low-paying jobs‚ where workers had less protection.

It said a difficult task lay ahead for the seven-member panel‚ in an economy where an estimated 40% of workers were trapped in the informal sector without the protection of a minimum wage.

"For the poorest people in society‚ the opportunity to emerge from poverty and live a dignified life is fundamentally blocked by extreme economic inequality and lack of living wage.

"It is the responsibility of the government to address the factors that have led to this inequality explosion‚ and implement policies that redistribute money and power from a few to many‚ and we see this as one of the mechanisms needed to address that‚" it said‚ giving the panel its full support.

The panel will be chaired by Prof Imraan Valodia‚ a part-time member of the Competition Tribunal and a commissioner on the Employment Conditions Commission.

Other members include:

• Mamokete Lijane, Aluwani Capital Partners macro strategist responsible for macroeconomic and fixed-income strategy and asset allocation;

• Dr Debbie Collier, associate professor in the department of commercial law at the University of Cape Town;

• Prof Murray Leibbrandt, pro vice-chancellor — poverty and inequality at the University of Cape Town;

• Dr Siphokazi Koyana, skills development and training expert; and

• Dr Patrick Belser, senior economist at the International Labour Organisation.

TMG Digital