A wave of public service strikes is sweeping across Swaziland.
School teachers who have been on indefinite strike for the past two weeks are expected to be joined today (11 July 2012) by civil servants of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) and the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU)
They are seeking a 4.5 percent pay rise to meet the increase in the cost of living over the past year.
Teachers of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) have been leading the way in the protest and were subjected to teargas and rubber bullet attacks by police as they attempted to protest peacefully.
The Swazi Government successfully achieved a court order banning the strike, but some teachers resolved to carry on. Now, the government is trying to get strikers’ leaders jailed for contempt of court.
The strikes are in response to government’s attempts to control public spending. The International Monetary Fund has urged financial reforms in the kingdom before Swaziland is allowed to go to the World Bank and African Development Bank for loans to help pay bills while it restructures its economy.
Unions say workers are being expected to take the brunt of the cuts. Government and members of parliament are continuing to receive large salaries and expenses packages, despite the call for spending cuts.
A total of 98 percent of NAPSAWU members who voted supported today’s strike. They are expected to march in the Swazi capital Mbabane later. The union has not yet decided how long the strike will last