Public servants across Swaziland are expected to strike on Tuesday (24 October 2017) in an ongoing pay dispute.
The Swazi Government has said it cannot afford to pay any increase at all, while public servants want more than 9 percent as a cost of living adjustment.
It comes after news that senior public servants will be given increases that, according to the Times of Swaziland newspaper, could be as much as 115 percent in some cases.
The Times in an editorial comment lastTuesday (17 October 2017) called this a ‘reckless use of taxpayers’ money’. It said the pay increases for senior officers had been kept ‘secret’ from rank-and-file workers.
The Swazi Government is broke and earlier this week it was reported it was living ‘hand to mouth’. It has failed to pay bills to its suppliers and as a result schoolchildren have gone without food and hospitals have run out of vital medicines.
The Times is the only independent daily newspaper in Swaziland which is ruled by King Mswati III as an absolute monarch. Political parties are barred from competing in elections and opposition groups have been banned under the Suppression of Terrorism Act.
In its editorial the Times said giving the increase to senior public servants was a ‘heinous act by government’ and was ‘worse than an insult, not just to the unions but also to the hundreds of businesses still waiting for their paycheque for services rendered’.
The main public sector workers unions involved, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP), Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) and the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) have called members to strike and march to the Ministry of Public Services.
Unions and the government have been called to the Industrial Court on 3 November 2017 to try to find a solution to the dispute.
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