Living Wage: Evidence from New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe

Dr Molefe Maleka
Mr Mthokozisi Mpofu
Prof Ines Meyer

Dr Molefe Maleka

From 1998 to 2007, Dr Maleka was employed at Nissan South Africa, where his functions included coordinating the graduate programme, skills audits, change management, and retrenchment package negotiations. From 2007 to 2011, he was employed at Eskom as a Learning and Design Senior Advisor, involved in project management and material development. Dr Maleka obtained a doctorate degree in Sociology from the University of South Africa (UNISA) in 2012. Dr Maleka is currently employed at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) as the Head of the Department of People Management and Development (PMD). He leads part-time and permanently employed academics and administrative staff. He is a member

of the Global Living Organisation Wage (GLOW), IAAP and Institute of People Management (IPM). He presented three papers at peer-reviewed conferences in Dubai, Vienna, and Tanzania. As an initiative to influence the implementation of a living wage, on 14 February 2017 he presented a paper on the living wage at the UN in New York. Since joining the academia in 2011, he has successfully supervised fourteen master’s students, co-supervised a doctorate student, wrote twelve papers published in the conference proceedings, and co-wrote ten journal articles. He is also a reviewer for various conference proceedings and journals. In 2017, he won an award at TUT for the best male emerging researcher in 2016. In 2017, he was a runner-up of IPM business leader of the year.

Mr Mthokozisi Mpofu

Mthokozisi Mpofu is a lecturer attached to the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa. Mthokozisi, a PhD candidate pursuing a career and growth in Human Resources Management; Industrial and Organisational Psychology and associated fields facilitation of learning and research, holds a Masters of Commerce Degree in Industrial Psychology. Apart from his academic qualifications, Mthokozisi is a well rounded researcher who has been involved in various research projects, supervised student research projects, attended and presented at various conferences and workshops and some of the papers presented in these proceedings have been published, some are under review for publication and others are unpublished.

Prof Ines Meyer

In 2018, Ines Meyer was awarded a National Research Foundation/Department of Science and Technology research chair in Creation of Decent Work and Sustainable Livelihood. She is a founding member of Project GLOW (Global Living Organisational Wage), an international network of researchers seeking to determine a wage level which would allow people, organisations and communities to prosper and thrive. Her work centers on using organisational psychology in poverty alleviation efforts, reducing inequality and creating more humane workplaces. Her work has been shaped by her experience as an organizational development practitioner with South African community based organizations (CBOs) from 2005 to 2009.

Since moving into academia in 2009, she has supervised approximately 50 Honours and Masters students. Ines has presented her work in over 20 conference presentations, winning a best paper award at the 7th Equality, Diversity and Inclusion International Conference in 2014. She has published locally and internationally, serves as a reviewer on local and international journals and is Associate Editor of the publication International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation. She has served as an executive board member for the Global Organisation of Humanitarian Work Psychology (GOHWP) from 2013 to 2015. She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Society of Industrial Psychology (SIOP). She currently represents SIOP at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva as a badged UN representative.

A living wage is an emotive topic and there is no consensus regarding the wage that will take people out of poverty and enable them to live a dignified life. Recently, in South Africa there have been strikes in the mining, transport, and education sectors with workers demanding a living wage (Dlangamadla, Jika, Ledwada, Mosamo, Saba & Sadiki, 2013:58; Masweleng, 2018). This session is in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 (poverty eradication), SDG 8 (decent work), and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities).

In attempting to take workers out of poverty, governments globally, for example in New Zealand (NZ), South Africa (SA), Brazil, India, Russia and China (BRIC), have developed a minimum wage policy (Freeman, 2008:6). This is determined by different stakeholders, using economic indicators like the Consumer Price Index (CPI). However, a minimum wage does not enable employees to live a dignified life. Hence, researchers under the leadership of Prof. Stuart Carr have developed a new approach of determining a living wage. This approach comprises approaching low-income workers and asking them about the wage that would enable them to live a decent life. Using statistical techniques (i.e. Loess curves), researchers are able to determine a living wage range. A living wage is defined as the “remuneration that empowers workers to live a dignified life, participate in societal activities, and support their families” (Anker, 2011:24). Research on a living wage is about finding what Prof. Reichmann, a representative of International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP) from the United Nations (UN), calls a “tippingpoint”– it is the point where employees earn a decent wage and employers thrive and make a profit at the same time.

Currently, there is migration taking place in Southern Countries Development Community (SADC), which in some instances make local citizens xenophobic. In South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, the minimum wage is legislated; unlike in Canada (see Phillips & Wong, 2017:580) where legislated living wages are legislated. Also, no study has been conducted to estimate a living wage in South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe (Maleka, Carr, Meyer, Parker, Mpofu &Hlatywayo, 2017:2).

In this session, the following will be shared:

  • Evidence published in the UN journal;
  • Evidence published in conference proceedings; and
  • Evidence about living wages in the SADC (i.e. South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe).