I think it’s “good”. Free market instincts incline me to simply allow the forces of supply and demand to determine the price of labour. But this Darwinian “survival of the fittest approach” only works in more or less equal societies. They exist in both a successful socialist countries system, like Sweden and Norway, and in successful free market countries like the US and the UK.
SA is neither of these – it’s a bit of both. We have enclaves of seriously successful businesses operating on free market principles in a massive sea of unemployed and desperate people. There’s a dangerous tipping point in this equation which we dare not push too far. If not quick fix solutions, there must at least be buffers to manage the discontent lest it tip us into chaos.
The NMW provides a modest buffer. It’s significant, not just for its money value – but also because it signals a message that society cares. A caring society offers hope – which feeds endeavour. And it’s a small handbrake on the “race to the bottom” in which the price of labour is driven to exploitative poverty levels by the oversupply of labour. We all strive for personal progress – and we all value our personal dignity. The NMW signals a small step to realise these basic human needs. .