Sunday, September 17, 2017


Administration staff at Swaziland’s Institute of Development Management say they have been victimised because they want to join a trade union.

It came after they failed to resolve continuing issues with management and decided to join the Swaziland Union of Non-Academic Staff for Higher Institutions (SUNASHI).

According to a report in the Sunday Observer (10 September 2017), ‘However, their decision has landed the members of staff on a collision course with management, who have instituted disciplinary hearings against 10 of the members who have attempted to join the union.’

The newspaper said according to one of the employees at IDM, staff members tried three times to get the union to address them before management called them to a disciplinary hearing, ‘and threatened to fire them for joining and holding meetings with the said union’.

He said, ‘The actions of IDM intimidate the employees to continue working in harsh, unfavourable and oppressing conditions. At this point they are between a rock and a stone, management refuses to hear them and refuses to allow them representation.’

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, ruled by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, was grouped alongside some of the worst human rights violators in the world, including Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the 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 [2014], 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 percent of the Maloma mine, with the remaining 25 percent owned by the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, a fund controlled by King Mswati III, who is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchs.’

Separately in 2015, the International Labour Organization (ILO) told Swaziland it must stop interfering in the activities of trade unions; ensure workers’ organizations were fully assured of their rights and ensure they had the autonomy and independence they needed to represent workers.

The ILO urged the Swaziland Government ‘without further delay’ among other matters to:
Ensure all workers’ and employers’ organizations in the country are fully assured their freedom of association rights.

Ensure organizations are given the autonomy and independence they need and fulfil their mandate and represent their constituents. The Government should refrain from all acts of interference in the activities of trade unions; 

Investigate arbitrary interference by police in lawful, peaceful and legitimate trade union activities and hold accountable those responsible; 

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