More than 8,000 people have been laid off from their jobs in Swaziland (eSwatini) because of the coronavirus lockdown presently gripping the kingdom.
The figure, released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, does not include unknown numbers of people who work for themselves or in the informal economy. The figures only included those firms that had officially informed the ministry. The number out of work is therefore expected to grow.
In a statement released on Monday (4 May 2020) Minister of Labour and Social Security Makhosi Vilakati said 43 companies had laid off a total of 8,429 workers. Of those 8,121 were from six companies in the textile industry.
Swaziland has been in a partial lockdown since 27 March with only essential services allowed to operate. The laid-off workers are not being paid.
Vilakati said he expected the workers to get their jobs back when the crisis was over.
Meanwhile, the Times of eSwatini reported, the Acting Commissioner of Labour Mthunzi Shabangu said that there were more than 20 companies which had reported that they would be forced to lay off workers because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Shabangu said more than 5,000 workers had been affected to date and that figure might double.
Landlords in the industrial town of Matsapha where many textile firms are based have reportedly evicted tenants from their homes because of non-payment of rent. The eSwatini Observer reported on Monday that people had been seen vacating one-bedroom flats during the weekend.
It reported, ‘Most of those who were moving out made it clear that they could no longer stay in the rented flats because they were in arrears for March and April and landlords were uncompromising when it comes to rent.
‘What makes the situation worse, according to some textile workers, is that they are not sure if they would still have their jobs when the situation normalises.’
One woman told the Observer, ‘I am a textile factory worker and due to the spread of the COVID-19, we were told to stay home without pay. Things have been hard for me, I can barely put food on the table for my three children.’
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