The Industrial Court in Swaziland has blocked an intended sympathy strike in support of Nedbank workers.
Swaziland Union of Financial Institution and Allied Workers (SUFIAW) had asked members in all banks across the kingdom to strike on Friday (18 August 2017) in support of a long-running dispute over pay.
In Swaziland, which is ruled by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, ‘secondary’ or ‘sympathy’ strikes are illegal.
The strike at Nedbank over a 10 percent cost of living adjustment continues.
In 2015 Swaziland was named as one of the ten worst countries for working people in the world, in a report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
The kingdom was grouped alongside some of the worst human rights violators in the world, including Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
The report called The World’s Worst Countries for Workers, reviewed the conditions workers faced during the previous year.
Among the worst cases in Swaziland the ITUC reported on the strike at the Maloma Mine which is partly owned by King Mswati.
It reported, ‘Some 250 workers went on strike on 24 November , after the mine management refused to negotiate over a US$72 housing allowance with the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA). All legal requirements were observed by the striking workers, and even though the strike was peaceful, the workers were surrounded by police equipped with riot shields, protective headgear, guns and teargas.
‘During the strike, management refused the workers access to water, toilets and medical facilities. Chancellor House, the investment arm of the ANC, owns 75% of the Maloma mine, with the remaining 25% owned by the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, a fund controlled by King Mswati III, who is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchs.’
ITUC also reported that the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, ‘publicly threatened Sipho Gumedze from the Lawyers for Human Rights and TUCOSWA [Trade Union Congress of Swaziland] General Secretary Vincent Ncongwane because of their participation in the US Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC.
‘Prime Minister Dlamini made the following statement during a speech in Parliament: “They leave your constituencies and do not even inform you where they are going and once they come back and you find out that they are from your constituency you must strangle them.”’
A week after that report was issued, the International Labour Organization (ILO) told Swaziland it must stop interfering in the activities of trade unions; ensure workers’ organizations are fully assured of their rights and ensure they have the autonomy and independence they need to represent workers.
The ILO placed Swaziland in a ‘special paragraph’ in its annual report to highlight the deficiencies in the kingdom’s commitment to freedom of association.
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