Solidarity for Swazi sugar strikers
UPDATE: You can now send a message of protest to the company through the IUF.
In Africa’s last feudal dictatorship, Swaziland, three thousand members of the SAPAWU sugar workers’ union are on strike at the Ubombo Sugar Company in the north east of the country. Ubombo is ultimately owned by UK-based multinational Associated British Foods, although 40% of the Swaziland operation is owned by King Mswati III who rules the country without toleration of dissent. The workers are currently paid just ZAR1,500 a month (£83) and want a pay increase of 14%, while the company is offering 7.5%.
Last year, Ubombo’s owner Illovo made a profit of ZAR272m, and AB Sugar boasts on its website that Illovo is “one of the world’s lowest cost producers” so they could easily afford the wage rise (it would slice less than 0.4% off those profits, reducing them to … er … just over ZAR271m!) The company’s management has responded to the strike by taking legal action against the union – citing violence such as “cutting flowers situated at the entrance of their administration block and destroying big flower pots.”
The Swaziland Agricultural Plantations and Allied Workers Union (SAPAWU) is part of the deregistered Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the International Union of Food and allied workers (IUF). We send the union our solidarity.