Swaziland’s only independent newspaper group is predicting a national strike of public servants after the kingdom’s Industrial Court dismissed an application for a pay increase.
Unions involved include the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP), Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA), and the National Public Services and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU).
The Swazi News, part of the Times of Swaziland, the only independent newspaper group in Swaziland where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported on Saturday (25 November 2017) a union leader saying a strike would be ‘devastating to the public’.
The unions grouped together as the Public Sector Associations (PSAs) asked for a 9.15 cost of living pay adjustment, but later reduced this to 7.85 percent after the government said it would not pay an increase because it could not afford to.
A dispute has been dragging on for weeks. On Friday the Industrial Court dismissed the PSAs’ application to determine the cost of living adjustment matter because deadlock had been reached in negotiations with the government. It said the court had no jurisdiction and it was up to the two parties to approach the Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration Commission.
The newspaper reported the court acknowledged that the PSAs believed strike action was an option.
The newspaper added, ‘SNAT Secretary General Zwelithini Mndzebele said since they were at a deadlock, the only option available under normal circumstances would be to strike, the effects of which would be devastating to the public.
‘Among other things, Mndzebele said if the associations were to strike, investors would have to consider the security of their loans and the investment they have made in the country.’
The unions held a one-day strike in October when they marched to the Ministry of Public Service and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Although ordinary public servants have been told there is no money for them, new salary scales for senior public servants have been announced. They were contained in ‘Establishment circular number 2 of 2017’, dated 6 August 2017. The Sunday Observer newspaper (29 October 2017) published details. It said 75 senior government officials within various ministries and cabinet offices got increases at a cost of E2.9 million (US$210,000).
It reported, ‘Among the list are 13 ambassadors or high commissioners’ posts which are the highest paid in the list as they moved from grade F2 to F3 which is E569,646 annum followed by 27 undersecretaries and four regional secretaries who had been upgraded from F1 to F2. The position of undersecretaries and regional officers (RO) had been re-graded by the Ministry of Public Service from F1 scale which had been cited as an anomaly because it rendered them earning a similar amount as their subordinates or less in some cases.
‘As of this month the basic salaries of the administration under-secretaries increased from the annual of E462,929 to E550,303 which translate to a monthly basic salary of E38,577 to E45,858 which is an increment E7,281, while that of the undersecretaries and schools manager in the Ministry of Education increases from E35,684 to E43,226. Those of regional officers is expected to increase from E17,690 to E38,067.’
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