From the TUC

Swaziland’s feudal dictatorship blocks public sector pay protests

22 Feb 2016, By

If you think the Tory attempts to prevent unions opposing cuts in the public sector through the Trade Union Bill are bad, spare a thought for the public sector unions in Swaziland, sub-Saharan Africa’s last remaining feudal dictatorship. Our friends at Swazi Media Commentary report that two trade union activists were arrested and charged with obstruction when they took part in a picket organised by public service unions, and a march in Swaziland’s capital city has been put on hold because of laws requiring police permission for protests.

The two trade unionists arrested were Mcolisi Ngcamphalala, a member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and Mbongwa Dlamini, Manzini Regional Chairperson of SNAT. Officers from Swaziland’s serious crimes unit, also known as the Swazi anti-terrorism squad, raided their homes on 4 February and the activists were held in custody before being granted bail pending their trial.

The picket is being held regularly every Wednesday to protest the secrecy of government pay policy for public sector workers, part of a defiance campaign by public servants banned from organising protest demonstrations.

That ban led to the proposed march to deliver a petition in Swaziland’s capital city was put on hold after the Municipal Council of Mbabane announced its intention to enforce a law that makes it unlawful to protest on the streets without permission. Experience suggests that when notice is given of such protests, the organisers are rounded up and dumped hundreds of miles away the night before the demo, making them impossible to organise.

The Government of Swaziland, whose main function appears to be maintaining the autocratic rule of King Mswati III, must recognise that trade unions have the right to protest, and the right to bargain collectively for better wages in the poverty-stricken nation. The ILO and the Commonwealth have already censured the Kingdom several times, and international patience is running out.

2 Responses to Swaziland’s feudal dictatorship blocks public sector pay protests

  1. Justice Baako Ntarmah (Missionary)
    Feb 23rd 2016, 3:10 pm

    MDWU expresses shock on what happened in the Swaziland. The Union should stand firm and continue fighting for the right for workers. We give moral and solidarity support through this short message.

  2. sam macartney
    Feb 25th 2016, 4:14 pm

    I would wish to pass on Unison Scotland’s solidarity and support for the local government trade unions in Swaziland, this attempt to take away the democratic right of workers and trade unions is not acceptable, we stand with you against this blatant breach of civil rights! keep up the fight for workers rights,WE stand with you.