Two weeks ago the government deregistered the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) after it publicly called for a boycott of next year’s election in the kingdom and took a lead role in protests for democracy that were quashed by state forces on Thursday (12 April 2012).
Deregulation means TUCOSWA cannot formally represent workers.
Support for TUCOSWA is growing both inside and outside Swaziland, where King Mswati III, rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The Swaziland Federation of Employers Chamber of Commerce (SFE/CC) criticised the government, saying it would impact badly on the kingdom’s efforts to be removed from the International Labour Organisation ILO’s Special Paragraph, which highlights the lack of freedom in Swaziland.
SFE/CC Chief Executive Officer Zodwa Mabuza, told local media, ‘That the deregistration happened when in the next two months we will be heading for the ILO meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, bodes ill for the country. We will be hauled over hot coal for this move, and I still wonder what we will have to say to justify such a move.’
The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) condemned the ban on TUCOSWA, calling it ‘illegitimate.’ It said it was an ‘attack on the rights of workers and their freedom of association’.
‘It flies against the spirit and letter of the Swazi labour laws,’ WFTU said in a statement.
It added, ‘It is a vindication of our stance as to why the ILO must continue to censor Swaziland for their flagrant violation of its standards and resolutions.’
Last week, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the UK called on Swaziland to be suspended from the Commonwealth for its attack on human rights.
Meanwhile, TUCOSWA says it has reported the Swazi Government to various international labour organisations, including the ILO, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) of the African Region and the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC).
UNION ATTACK: ‘SUSPEND SWAZILAND’