Pay Domestic Workers Equal Minimum Wage

Target: Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa

Goal: Remove exceptions for domestic workers in new minimum wage laws.

South Africa’s new Minimum Wage Bill contains exceptions for certain kinds of workers, including domestic workers—the vast majority of whom are women—that will mean lower pay for these workers. South Africa faces high unemployment levels; a reported 38.6% of the 56.52 million people that live in South Africa are not regularly employed. Within this statistic, women are more likely than men to be unemployed. Mbokazi Songelwa, a 52-year-old cleaner, says that she has been working for so long she can’t remember when she started. She states, “Because of poverty, women are already often compelled into low wage…activities in order to provide access to housing and food security for their families.” While the new Minimum Wage Bill will be revolutionary for South Africa, a country that has never mandated a universal minimum wage, by creating exceptions for domestic workers, a huge demographic of the workforce will not benefit from the changes.

The bill proposes a minimum wage of at least 20 rand per hour for workers but only requires a minimum wage of 15 rand per hour for domestic workers. Legislators rationalized that because domestic work is “often poorly organized,” the lower minimum wage is necessary to ease employers into the idea of paying a minimum wage to domestic workers. More than one million women were employed in private households in South Africa as of September 2017. By creating exceptions within the legislation of the Minimum Wage Bill, these women are being left behind.

Sign this petition to urge the president of South Africa to remove the exceptions for domestic workers from the bill and have an equal minimum wage for all workers.


Dear President Zuma,

Over one million women are employed in the private homes of South Africa as domestic workers. These women work to support families, put food on the table, and create homes of their own. With the proposed Minimum Wage Bill as it stands now, these women will be left behind by legislation that requires 25% less pay for these domestic workers than for other types of workers. The time and effort that domestic workers dedicate to their work is not 25% less than other workers, and therefore they should not be paid 25% less.

Mbokazi Songelwa, a 52-year-old cleaner, says of her work, “Most of the ladies who clean like me don’t have husbands. They are working for themselves to support their families. Where we live, we must buy electricity, pay for groceries, and transport. I also have two funeral cover policies, so that if I die the grandchildren and my family don’t have to get into debt. When it is month’s end I become stressed. Everyone pays at the end of the month, and in two days, my money is finished.”

Hardworking individuals like this deserve to be protected by minimum wage laws. I urge you to remove the exceptions from the Minimum Wage Bill and require that all employers pay their workers an equal minimum wage.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: YIvers

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