5 January 2017

Swaziland: Public Servants Ready to Strike

Public servants in Swaziland say they want a minimum 70 percent pay increase and they are prepared to take to the streets to achieve it.

Public servants have been at loggerheads with the Swazi Government for years over pay and conditions. Many international groups such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) say Swaziland already devotes too much of its overall public spending to public servant salaries.

In 2016, the Voice of America reported public sector workers in Swaziland had called for increased pay for the past 10 years. The government had often said the global economic downturn had made it difficult to meet these demands.

In 2016, public servants received a 17 percent increase. Members of Parliament got a 32 percent increase in salaries.

The Times of Swaziland, Swaziland's only independent daily newspaper, reported on Tuesday (3 January 2017) that Aubrey Sibiya, President of the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), said the demand would be achieved by hook or crook.

The Times reported, 'Sibiya noted that unionists were ready and prepared to leave their workstations and fill up the streets in demand of what they believe is theirs. He further said civil servants' remuneration in the country was pathetic as compared to other countries in the region.'

Sibiya reportedly said if civil servants did not get better pay, 'the poor will live miserably while the rich do the opposite'.

In September 2016, the Times reported that the Swazi Government had been exposed making 'empty promises' to the IMF that it would control public spending. The Government, which is hand-picked by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, had promised only to increase public sector salaries in line with the cost of living. Instead salaries rose 17 percent adding an estimated E300 million (US$22.14 million) to government spending.


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