3 March 2017

Swaziland: Swazi Police Block Workers' Protest

Police in Swaziland blocked a workers' protest against poor labour conditions in the kingdom.

Members of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) tried to march to deliver a petition of complaints to Winnie Magagula, the Minister of Labour and Social Security.

Local media reported on Tuesday (28 February 2017) that police blocked the march close to the ministry by forming a line in the road.

The Swazi Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, reported, 'This was done in a bid to protect the officials from the labour ministry, who were to receive a petition that was to be delivered by TUCOSWA.'

The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom, reported, 'The list of issues that the union wants government to address include; severance allowance, national minimum wage, amendments to the public enterprises, elimination of precarious employment and the inclusion of domestic workers as members of the SNPF and ratification of the ILO convention 189 on domestic workers.'

The Times reported, 'According to the union's Secretary General, Vincent Ncongwane, ever since the union engaged government in 2013 on the matter of national minimum wage, nothing has been done whereas this was a current discussion internationally. Therefore, the union wants the minister to write to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and request for a study to be done on the subject matter in Swaziland. Ncongwane said even though the union had done its study and found that the national minimum wage should be E3,500 (US$270), the minister should request for ILO's findings as well.'

Assistant Commissioner of Labour Sipho Maseko later received the petition.

In 2015, Swaziland was named as among the worst ten countries in the world for workers' rights in a report published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

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