Swaziland

The ITUC affiliate in Swaziland is the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA).

In practice

Freedom of association / Right to organise

Barriers to the establishment of organizations:

De-registration of federation
27-02-2013

The Commissioner of Labour and the Attorney General decided on the de-registration of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) after TUCOSWA announced its campaign for free and fair elections. The Industrial Court ruled on 27 February 2013 that the Industrial Act does not provide for the registration of federations and asked the government to determine a modus operandi for registration together with TUCOSWA. In addition, all affiliates of TUCOSWA have petitioned the government to recognise TUCOSWA as their legitimate representative. The government refuses to meet TUCOSWA and to recognise it as a legitimate federation.

Firm rejection of a police union
30-04-2010

During a ceremony on 1 April to hand over office to his successor former Police Commission, Edgar Hillary, restated his firm opposition to trade unions in the police. He stated that “a union has no place in the police service or any disciplined force. Unions in such formations can only cause division, uncertainty and anarchy”. The ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
still leaves the question of trade unions in the police and armed forces to the discretion of Member States.

Unions still refused recognition
31-12-2009

The authorities have continued to refuse recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. to the Swaziland Police Association (SPA) and the Swaziland Correctional Service Union (SWACU). Additionally, union activity is not effectively protected against employers’ interference, although the law protects unions from governmental interference. It has been reported that employers’ interference with workers’ councils has contributed to the failure of some trade unions to negotiate collective agreements. Furthermore, there are reports that some employers dictate which decisions are taken in the workers’ councils.

Restrictions on workers' right to form and join organizations of their own choosing:

To mislead the international community, the...
30-06-2012

To mislead the international community, the Swaziland Economic Empowerment Workers Union was recognised as the body that should represent Swazi workers at the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
. The manner in which the union was established and whether it has any membership remains unclear. Yet, it is evident that it is used to undermine legitimate unions.

Restrictions on trade unions' right to organize their administration:

Repression of trade union activities during the Global Week of Action
06-09-2013

Vincent Ncongwane, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland, was arrested and put under house arrest for attempting to stage an illegal protest on 5 September 2013. TUCOSWA fully complied with Swazi laws by announcing a protest march for the Global Week of Action on 15 August 2013 to both police and the Commissioner of Labour. The Commissioner of Labour claimed not to have received the notice and argued that TUCOSWA may not organise any protests because it is not a registered trade union federation.

Jay Naidoo, Alec Muchadehama, Paul Verryn who were invited as international experts to act as panellists during the Global Inquiry Panel Swaziland as well as Paliani Chinguwo from the Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) were questioned at the police station upon arrival in Manzini on 5 September 2013.

On 4 and 5 September police followed staff from the ITUC, COSATU, FES/DGB and Industriall around the clock. A few hours before the Global Inquiry Panel Swaziland was scheduled to begin, police and military entered the venue and blocked the meeting room. Senior police officers stated they had verbal instructions to prevent the inquiry but were not able to produce a court order.

Police raided the head offices of TUCOSWA
01-05-2013

Police raided the head offices of TUCOSWA at 8 am on 1 May 2013, arresting the President of TUCOSWA, Barnes Dlamini, and the 1st Deputy Secretary General, Mduduzi Gina. Their arrests followed that of Vincent Ncongwane, Secretary General of TUCOSWA, Muzi Mhlanga, 2nd Deputy Secretary General, and Jabulile Shiba, the Deputy Treasurer General, who were all placed under house arrest that morning. May Day celebrations organised by TUCOSWA at the Salesian Sports Ground in Manzini were forced to be called off, as police prohibited workers from shouting TUCOSWA slogans or from displaying TUCOSWA banners.

Police violently stopped a prayer meeting
09-03-2013

On 9 March 2013, police violently stopped a prayer meeting on TUCOSWA’s anniversary. Police, carrying batons, took control of the Caritas Centre and stopped a commemoration prayer. The Swazi Government had, without a court order, decided that the prayers, organised by TUCOSWA were illegal because the workers’ group was not officially registered with the state.

Categories of workers prohibited or limited from forming or joining a union, or from holding a union office:

Firm rejection of a police union
30-04-2010

During a ceremony on 1 April to hand over office to his successor former Police Commission, Edgar Hillary, restated his firm opposition to trade unions in the police. He stated that “a union has no place in the police service or any disciplined force. Unions in such formations can only cause division, uncertainty and anarchy”. The ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
still leaves the question of trade unions in the police and armed forces to the discretion of Member States.

Repression in the textile sector
30-11-2009

The textile sector has become notorious for its anti-labour and anti-union practices, particularly foreign-owned companies, principally from Taiwan, who employ a mainly female workforce. Any protests about their poor working conditions are dealt with severely. In March 2008, police intervened against thousands of textile workers engaged in a legal strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to demand higher wages. The workers, mainly women, were hit with tear gas canisters, beaten heavily with batons and shot at with what were suspect to be live rounds.

Others restrictions:

Arrests of trade unionists
12-04-2013

On 12 April 2013, Wander Mkhonza was again arrested in Lavumisa Border Gate on allegations that he was in possession of seditious pamphlets belonging to a political organisation.

Charges against trade unionists
13-09-2012

On 13 September 2012, the government withdrew charges against six of the seven suspended teachers who participated in the indefinite strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. The teachers had been charged with vandalism during a picket organised by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers.

The Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act (Article 40) provides for the civil and criminal liability of trade union leaders for legitimate trade union activities.

Trade unions under fire
30-12-2009

In the absence of any credible political opposition, trade unions in Swaziland have been in the forefront of efforts to promote democracy. As a result, they have been a target of constant harassment and repression. Union leaders have been arrested, protesters beaten and political parties banned. Speaking at the International Labour Conference in June, the General Secretary of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), Jan Sithole reported that he had been a victim of police harassment and arrests, and that he and his family have been receiving death threats. At the end of its proceedings, the Conference’s Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations of the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
devoted a special paragraph to Swaziland in its report, a measure reserved for the worst cases of rights violations.

Right to collective bargaining

Barriers to the recognition of collective bargaining agents:

Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini,...
10-06-2013

Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini, when addressing heads of government parastatal companies, warned that management should only negotiate with unions that are “recognised by and working within the Swazi legal system”. This implies that the government encourages managers not to negotiate with TUCOSWA.

Restrictions on the principle of free and voluntary bargaining:

No functioning collective bargaining institutions
20-08-2013

No Wage Councils have been held for three years to negotiate wages in the commercial, retail and wholesale sectors. There is also an enforcement problem, as grievance mechanisms such as the Conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
Mediation mediation A process halfway between conciliation and arbitration, in mediation a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement to an industrial dispute by suggesting possible, non-binding solutions.

See arbitration, conciliation
and Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Commission have been unable to enforce decisions given the backlog of cases before the Industrial Court.

The Industrial Relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
Act (section 45) also promotes the establishment of Joint Negotiating Councils (JNC) to bargain over working conditions at the sectoral level. So far, only one JNC was established in the textile industry in 2005 between the Swaziland Textile Exporters Association (STEA) and the Swaziland Manufacturing and Allied Workers Union (SMAWU). But before an agreement could be reached, the STEA disbanded as a reaction to requests by the SMAWU to negotiate pay increases.

Undermining of the recourse to collective bargaining and his effectiveness:

Unions still refused recognition
31-12-2009

The authorities have continued to refuse recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. to the Swaziland Police Association (SPA) and the Swaziland Correctional Service Union (SWACU). Additionally, union activity is not effectively protected against employers’ interference, although the law protects unions from governmental interference. It has been reported that employers’ interference with workers’ councils has contributed to the failure of some trade unions to negotiate collective agreements. Furthermore, there are reports that some employers dictate which decisions are taken in the workers’ councils.

Right to strike

Undermining of the recourse to strike actions or their effectiveness:

Continued repression of trade union activity
31-12-2010

In an interview given to a London student’s newspaper in February 2010, B.V. Dlamini, deputy secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) described the trade union rights situation in the country as follows: “When workers go on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, the government sends the police to beat the hell out of them. There are even cases where police agents were shooting the workers just because they went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, demanding better working conditions”. The government said that it was “not going to tolerate [strikes], because it will chase [away] investors”. Mr. Dlamini also explained that while Swaziland was often one of the first countries to ratify international conventions, including ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Conventions, it was usually also the first to violate them.

Repression in the textile sector
30-11-2009

The textile sector has become notorious for its anti-labour and anti-union practices, particularly foreign-owned companies, principally from Taiwan, who employ a mainly female workforce. Any protests about their poor working conditions are dealt with severely. In March 2008, police intervened against thousands of textile workers engaged in a legal strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to demand higher wages. The workers, mainly women, were hit with tear gas canisters, beaten heavily with batons and shot at with what were suspect to be live rounds.

© ITUC-CSI-IGB 2013 | www.ituc-csi.org | Contact Design by Pixeleyes.be - maps: jVectorMap