5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


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

Eswatini ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 1978 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1978.

In practice

Browse by:

Unions report continuous violations of workers’ rights01-02-2022

As concerns about events in Eswatini mounted, the global union IndustriALL and the ITUC wrote to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the South African government on 1 February 2022 to urge King Mswati III’s government to act to ensure the respect and protection of workers’ and human rights.
According to the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA); the Swaziland Electricity Supply, Maintenance, and the Allied Workers’ Union (SESMAWU); and the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), security forces are continuously violating human and workers’ rights to freedoms of expression, assembly, and association, and the right to life.
This is making life unbearable for the workers, who live in harsh conditions characterised by poor wages, increasing poverty, high levels of unemployment and the COVID-19 and HIV pandemics.

Police officers stop public transport workers’ meeting27-12-2021

Armed police officers prevented a meeting of the Swaziland Transport Communication and Allied Workers’ Union (SWATCAWU) from taking place on 27 December 2021 at the Manzini Bus Rank.
They did so after Prince Simelane, in his role as both housing minister and major general of the army, banned all protests in the country amid growing calls for democratic reforms. Minister Prince Simelane directed all town councils not to issue permits allowing citizens to protest in towns.
Sticks Nkhambule, the SWATCAWU secretary general, said they had a meeting with the Manzini police led by the station’s deputy commander just two hours before their big meeting with the public transport employees.
“They told us that their authorities had stopped the meeting since we didn’t have a permit from the Municipal Council,” said the SWATCAWU secretary general.
The public transport employees were demanding, among other stipulations, a minimum wage of E4,000, the removal of court summons, and the release of the arrested pro-democracy MPs Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube.

Mbabane Town Council denies trade unions permission to march in town13-12-2021

The Municipal Council of Mbabane has once again denied public sector associations permission to march across the city to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Public Service.
In a letter dated 7 December 2021 and addressed to the convener, being the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Municipal Council denied the unions permission to march across the city as per the directive of the minister of housing and urban development, Prince Simelane.
“Kindly be informed that following a directive received from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to indefinitely suspend the issuance of permits for all processions within urban areas, dated 21st October 2021, the Council denies your application to assemble at the Mbabane Coronation Park and to utilize public streets for procession,” reads the letter in part.
Public sector associations on Wednesday 15 December were planning to march to the Ministry of Public Service to deliver a petition to demand the salary review and an end to the casualisation of the labour force and to union bashing, among other issues.

Unions denied permission to march07-12-2021

In a letter dated the 7 December 2021, the Municipal Council of Mbabane denied the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) permission to march across the city.
“Following a directive received from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to indefinitely suspend the issuance of permits for all processions within urban areas, dated 21st October 2021, the Council denies your application to assemble at the Mbabane Coronation Park and to utilise public streets for procession,” read the letter. The Ministry is led by one of the brothers of King Mswati III, Prince Simelane, who is both housing minister and major general of the army.
Public sector associations (PSAs) were planning to march to the Ministry of Public Service on Wednesday 15 December to deliver a petition to demand a salary review and an end to the casualisation of the labour force and union bashing, among other issues.
Sikelela Dlamini the secretary general of the SNAT, acknowledged receipt of the letter, adding that they were still to deliberate on the way forward.

Soldiers beat protesting workers28-10-2021

Over 60 workers who were traveling in a bus from Mhlume to participate in a protest at Siteki on 28 October 2021 were beaten by soldiers and forced to roll on the ground while singing praises to King Mswati.
The incident occurred in the midst of ongoing political unrest. It was reported to the media by Mduduzi Gina, the secretary general of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), who added that the union was trying to locate some of the workers who were abducted by the soldiers and taken into the bushes.
“The workers were from Mhlume and Simunye. Their bus was stopped by the police at Lonhlupheko. The police then forced them into a nearby bush, where they were then loaded into an army truck and driven deeper into the bushes. Before they were beaten, the soldiers grabbed their cell phones, and they were then made to sing King Mswati’s praises saying “Bayethe” while being beaten and made to roll on the ground,” said the TUCOSWA secretary general.
On or around 27 October, William Dlamini, the national commissioner of police, wrote to TUCOSWA urging the federation to postpone the gathering planned for 28 October 2021 “in the interest of public order, safety and national security.”
TUCOSWA organised the protest to call for, among other demands, a genuine political dialogue and an end to the consistent shutdown of the internet during protests.
The incident came during a wave of killings of protesting civilians by Mswati’s security forces. Dozens have been killed since the unrest started in June 2021.

Police disrupt union meeting with tear gas21-10-2021

On 21 October 2021, a meeting in Matsapha, organised by the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA), was interrupted by the police who, without warning, threw tear gas at the workers and union officials. The police had been duly informed in advance of the meeting, which was held as part of the build-up to a planned strike by textile workers. The Industrial Court had banned the strike from going ahead. It was due to be held on 25 October in support of a number of demands, including pay, annual bonuses and housing allowance. It was called after the employers had refused to cooperate with the Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC). Six factories were served with the notice of the strike, which did not go head after action was taken to have it banned.
The tear gassing took place amid the increasingly brutal tactics used to put down pro-democracy protests. At its second congress held on 13 November, Wander Mkhonza, the ATUSWA general secretary, stated that over 100 people, including union members, had been shot and killed by the police and army while many more had been injured in recent protests.
Despite the violence, the union continued to encourage workers to take part in the pro-democracy campaign and argued that workers, as members of communities, should be involved in community struggles. ATUSWA called for meaningful dialogue and multi-party democracy.

Public sector union protestors shot with rubber bullets and tear gas 20-10-2021

Public sector and health workers marched to the Ministry of Justice on 20 October to deliver a petition calling for a 2021 salary review; an end to the casualisation and privatisation of the public service; and an end to attacks on trade unions. The protestors were met with tear gas and rubber bullets from police. Two buses ferrying public workers to the peaceful gathering were also stopped by the police and their passengers shot at with live bullets, and a student was killed by a stray bullet.
The march had previously been banned and declared illegal by the National Commissioner of Police under the Prohibition Order Act on the grounds that it posed a threat to national security. Public Sector International, the global union representing public sector workers, denounced the incident as an egregious breach of the right to strike and protest peacefully. Reports stated that up to 80 people were injured in the violence. The union representing public sector workers in Eswatini has stated it will be reporting the incident to the ILO.

March by public sector unions met with violent repression20-10-2021

On 20 October 2021, public sector employees who went to deliver a petition to the Public Service Ministry were met with what they described as an “unprecedented show of force”. The petition called for a salary review for 2021, an end to the casualisation of the public service, and putting a stop to the privatisation of the public service and to trade union bashing.
The national commissioner of police attempted to silence the workers by banning the public sector unions’ action, citing “national security” and “public safety and order”. When workers gathered to march and to hand over the petition, having followed all necessary protocol, the commissioner ensured that the process did not proceed by dispersing workers using tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. Two buses carrying public service workers, including members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and the Swaziland Democratic Nurses’ Union (SDNU) were stopped by the police and tear gas was fired at them. The doors of the bus were closed. As workers tried to leave, they were shot at. Eventually, the back windows were broken, and workers manged to escape. Many of them were nurses, some of whom had to undergo surgery to treat their injuries. A total of 36 were reportedly injured, and a young bystander was killed. Other reports said that at least 80 people were injured in the violence in the capital, Mbabane, and the city of Manzini.
SDNU president Welcome Mdluli told journalist that since then his members had become scared of the police. “We have reports of police shooting health care workers inside the hospital,” he said.

Bus driver shot dead by police during pay protest20-10-2021

A bus driver was shot dead and another injured during clashes with police as drivers took part in a wage-protest in the small town of Malkerns on Wednesday 13 October.
The drivers were initially protesting about pay, but after the killing, transport workers joined in the wider protests in the country calling for democratic reforms.
Pro-democracy demonstrations have been taking place in Eswatini, an absolute monarchy ruled over by King Mswati III, for decades. The latest wave began on 26 June 2021 when campaigners were prevented from delivering a petition to the government calling for a constitutionally established democracy. The government used brutal force to stamp out pro-democracy protests. There are reports that many people were killed. Others were injured, some seriously with gunshot wounds, and many more detained.
After police shot and killed the bus driver, transportation workers blocked several key roads across the country. The following day, 14 October, police shot and killed an individual at a roadblock in Mpaka town.
On 20 October, security forces cracked down on protests in Mbabane (north-west) and Manzini (centre) cities, reportedly killing one and injuring at least 80, including 30 by gunshot. The next day the government banned all protests and reportedly shut down the social media platform Facebook.
Prior to the bus driver incident, in early September members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) were shot at close range by Eswatini police, leaving many injured. They had been taking part in a picket at the Matsamo Border Post to show their solidarity with the workers and people of their neighbouring country and their demands for democratic change.

Seventy-two killed throughout months of pro-democracy protests30-09-2021

Pro-democracy protests in Eswatini have been ongoing since May 2021, with trade unions and other civil society groups calling for democratic elections and an end to absolute monarchy in the country, which bans political parties from participating in elections. It is estimated that throughout this period, 72 protestors have been killed by police and government forces. Hundreds have been injured, while some remain missing. Some activists have gone into hiding and others have fled into exile. On 6 August 2021, global and national trade unions organised a day of action and marched on Parliament. International organisations have described the crackdown on protestors as a serious violation of freedom of association.
In a statement on 18 October 2021, Eswatini’s commerce minister, Mancoba Khumalo, stated that workers risked losing their jobs if they participated in the pro-democracy protests against King Mswati. “We would like to appeal to all emaSwati to discourage this behaviour and reiterate that there is no room for such anarchy in our society," said the minister.

Assaulted for taking part in a protest02-06-2021

In May 2021, Sipho Shiba, a bus conductor based in Manzini, was assaulted by three police officers while taking part in a protest by public transport workers. The workers had taken to the streets after traffic police officers would not allow them to load passengers along their routes. The incident came to light after a video clip was posted on social media showing the police officers hurling insults at the conductor and assaulting him, kicking him and using their fists. Mr Shiba was left with injuries to his ear and his left arm.
On 2 June, the national commissioner of police (NATCOM) issued a press statement stating that investigations had been conducted by the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) and that it had been decided to suspend the three officers pending disciplinary proceedings against them. It is very rare for the REPS to investigate their own officers.

Employer sues Eswatini union for strike damages 15-09-2020

Taiwanese-owned FTM Garments is taking the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA) to court over an alleged four-day loss of production and damages to property following a picket two years ago.
This legal action comes just one week after the union took the company to court over its refusal to recognise ATUSWA, despite a Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration Commission’s (CMAC’s) ruling in January 2020. This lawsuit is a clear attempt to weaken the union. ATUSWA says that it will challenge the claims, which are meant to bankrupt the union, and that employers are using this strategy to waste union resources through legal fees.
This lawsuit is the latest of union-busting attempts following a number of incidents at the factory. In August 2018, ATUSWA met with its members at the Zheng Yong site in Nhlangano to decide on whether to go ahead with a proposed strike action on living wages after a dispute with the employer. The meeting attracted thousands of workers from other factories. However, workers opted for negotiations through the collective agreement that the union had with Zheng Yong. When the workers went back to work after the meeting, the Zheng Yong management locked the gates, incensing the workers, who then picketed, with workers from FTM garments and other factories joining in the action. The police worsened the tense situation by firing tear gas into workers who had gathered, sparking the demonstrations.
ATUSWA has long fought for a living wage for textile workers. Garment workers are paid E1800 per month (US$108). The union is campaigning for a minimum living wage of E3500 (US$210).

Violence against striking workers results in 10 injured by police03-10-2019

A march of 8,000 public service workers in Manzini on 2 October ended in violence as ten workers and three policemen were injured after police fired live ammunition into groups of protestors. The marchers were primarily civil servants who are members of SNAT, National Association of Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAW) and Swaziland National Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP). The protests, which had been going since the end of September, aimed to draw public attention to the public service unions’ programme of action for cost-of-living adjustment by forcing a full shutdown of downtown Manzini. Fighting erupted as the protestors reached the Manzini Regional Education Office, and at least 30 workers were injured.

One of the injured marchers was the secretary general for NAPSAWU’s Manzini Branch, Dumisani Nkuna, who was shot at, with live rounds of ammunition, in the back, just close to the spinal cord. Nkuna was rushed to the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital. Another protestor received two bullet wounds to the hand. Other casualities were attended to by paramedics at the scene. One of these was a woman who was sprayed with pepper spray at close range.

The violence, which was condemned by the trade union movement both within Eswatini and internationally, comes amid a broader pattern of curtailment of democratic freedoms in the country. The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has called on the government to put in place measures for the protection of public events and demonstrations.

In a bid to quash the strike, the government resorted to the National Industrial Relations Court to have the strike declared illegal under reasons of posing ‘’threats to national interest’’. On 3 October, an interim order halting the strike action was handed down by Judge Abande Dlamini.

Police use violence against striking workers, 15 injured15-09-2019

On 25 September, police in Eswatini fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water canons at thousands of civil servants protesting against low pay and rising living costs in the country. The protestors accused King Mswati III of failing to provide sufficient wages, and they assembled in the capital Mbabane to discuss action with opposition pro-democracy groups. More than 3,500 people marched in Mbabane, the Eswatini capital, and the neighboring city of Manzini on 23 September, and another 3,500 were estimated to have marched on Wednesday 25 September. The protestors were marching to deliver petitions to the Eswatini

Royal Police Services Headquarters, Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Education and Training.

An AFP reporter on the scene said police intervened and began assaulting the protestors with tear gas and water canons when the crowd diverged from their authorised protest route. There were also reports of police firing rubber bullets into the crowds of protestors, injuring 15 people.

Civil servants plan strike despite government intimidation01-02-2019

The nationwide civil servants planned a strike action for 28 January 2019 over a failure by the government to pay salary increases since 2017. The public sector associations (PSAs) that were due to strike on 28 January were the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (TUCOSWA), Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWANDU) and Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP).

After the strike had been announced, attempts were made by the government to intimidate workers and repress the strike action. On January 11, two teachers affiliated with SNAT were arrested while on the way to a union meeting. The prime minister, Ambrose Dlamini, threatened to fire the workers should they strike, and fine them 10,000 Emalangini. There were also reports of intimidation of workers by security forces.

On the day the strike was due to take place, Industrial Court Judge President Sifiso Nsibande heard an application from the minister of labour for an injunction preventing the strike from going ahead. The judge ruled that the strike should not take place pursuant to Section 90(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, which prohibits strike action from taking place when there are proceedings in relation to that action before the Court. The unions involved have stated that they will appeal the verdict. A smaller march of SNAT members took place on 1 February 2019.

Meeting of Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) declared illegal by Ministry of Education and Training29-01-2019

A meeting that was attended by members of various public service unions on 28 January 2019 to discuss the Court ruling to cancel the planned strike action on that day has been declared illegal by the principle secretary of the Ministry of Education and Training, Dr Sibongile Mtshali. Dr Mtshali had circulated a message to all head teachers stating that it would be illegal for any teachers to attend the meeting without prior permission from her office.

Police brutally attack defenseless members of TUCOSWA ahead of sham elections 20-11-2018

The ITUC has condemned the actions of the government of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) as dozens of police in riot gear have attacked workers during a peaceful demonstration calling for pay rises over the past two days.
On 18 and 19 September 2018, police fired stun grenades and physically assaulted the crowd in the main city Manzini. Several workers sustained serious injuries and needed hospital treatment. Two organisers of the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA), Sbonelo Tsabedze and Nhlanhla Tsabedze, were arrested while coordinating workers who had assembled by the Zheng Yong gate early in the morning. Several workers are reportedly still missing. The Swazi Police Union has also issued a press statement denouncing the brutal violence of their superiors, confirming that they were given orders to shoot and kill anyone who “disturbs” the deeply flawed upcoming elections in the country.
‘’We strongly condemn the unilateral banning of the protest action organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) that had been previously declared legal and in accordance with section 40 of the Industrial Relations Act. We call upon the police to unconditionally release all the arrested and detained workers and to account for all the workers who are currently missing,’’ said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
TUCOSWA has filed an urgent court application for a review of the situation with the High Court of Swaziland on 20 September.
‘’The ITUC demands an immediate and credible investigation into the violent events in eSwatini. The government has turned the country into a police state where police violence is used to silence any opposition and where the authorities simply dismiss dialogue with trade unions on basic human and trade union rights,’’ said Burrow.

Protesting textile and garment workers met with violence by eSwatini Police Force20-11-2018

Protesting garment and textile workers were met with excessive force by the Royal eSwatini Police leading to the arrest and injury of scores of workers in a series of protests organised in late August and September. The workers were protesting for better wages and working conditions.
On 30 August 2018, the Amalgated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) reported that more than 200 paramilitary police and correctional facility warders with riot shields and batons were deployed outside of a textile factory in Nhlangano and reportedly fired gunshots at workers who were protesting about poor pay. During the clashes, the police beat up a journalist and demanded he delete photographs he had taken of them attacking and shooting at the striking textile workers.
On 19 September 2018, the protests involving five garment and textile factories took place after negotiations were deadlocked at the Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration Commission over improved conditions of service and wages. Over 10,000 garment and textile workers were involved in the protests with the police arresting and beating up ATUSWA members to stop them from protesting. The protests took place in Mbabane, Manzini and other places, in accordance with laws of eSwatini.
According to ATUSWA, organisers Sbonelo Tsabedze and Nhlanhla Tsabedze were arrested at Nhlangano while mobilising workers to assemble at the gates of Zheng Yong factory to push for their demands.
According to the leadership of ATUSWA, “The police resorted, without provocation, to disperse the workers using tear gas and started going after union members and beating them up. We are receiving reports that a lot of our members are injured and running for dear lives as they are hounded by the police.”

Royal police invade hospital during peaceful nurses’ protest 13-10-2018

In an attack by the Royal Police Force of eSwatini on workers, armed riot police invaded the Hlatikhulu Government Hospital in Swaziland during a lawful and peaceful protest by nurses.
Police with guns patrolled the hospital and on Thursday 4 October 2018 stormed the hospital after nurses started singing and chanting slogans “in protest over what they described as unfair treatment by their management”.
The strike came after a series of protests and rallies which saw police violence in attempts to suppress the protestors. On 29 August 2018, while hundreds of trade unionists led by the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) marched towards the Ministries of Public Service and Health to deliver a petition, the police deliberately dispersed the peaceful march by attacking protesters with Tasers.

SNAT leader arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted31-08-2018

On 26 August 2018, Maxwell Myeni, secretary of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA), Lavumisa Local Shopstewards Council and member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), was arrested at his home by the Police Serious Crimes Unit and brought to the Sigodweni police station, 145 kilometers from where he was arrested. He was released on bail on Monday 27th after appearing before a magistrate; He was unlawfully charged under the Public Order Act. Earlier in the week, the police had interfered with and started shooting at SNAT members who were peacefully gathered at their headquarters to discuss a way forward on the government refusal to review their salaries in the last two years.

Police violence against peaceful trade union demonstration03-07-2018

On 29 June 2018, a peaceful demonstration, organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) to deliver a petition to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office was brutally repressed by armed forces.
The City Council of Mbabane refused access to the main streets to demonstrators, and the police prevented them from reaching the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office by using water cannon and wielding batons, tear gas canisters, and attacked demonstrators with batons. Four members of TUCOSWA were gravely injured and taken to the hospital, while Majembeni Thobela, a security guard who was marching this day, received severe beatings and was left unconscious, covered with blood on his face from head injuries. The police did not even bother to rush their victim to hospital, and first aid was later applied to him by other marchers. Many demonstrators ran for safety, with police heavy on their pursuit beating everyone on sight with batons. Some were cornered and severely assaulted by the police. Gcebile Ngcamphalala is reported to have suffered a fracture when she was whipped by officers while trying to jump over a fence.
One TUCOSWA member was taken by the police for questioning and later released. A week after the events, two people were still in a critically state at the hospital.
Demonstrators wanted to raise a number of legitimate trade union demands, including the introduction of minimum wage, amendments to the employment act, banning of replacement of labour during strike action, and banning of labour brokers, as well as demanding an end to abuses of small sugarcane workers. The ITUC strongly condemned these acts of violence.

SANU locks out striking workers, hires temporary staff16-08-2017

On 16 August 2017, the Swaziland Health Institutions and Allied Workers Union (SHIAWU) called its members employed at the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) to strike after having reached a deadlock in negotiations with their employer. The dispute resulted from a salary negotiations deadlock with SANU refusing the union’s demand of a 15 per cent salary increment for 2015/2016. Although SHIAWU had previously attempted to refer failed negotiations to the Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC), SANU refused to change its position. During three days of strike action, SANU locked out the protesting staff, brought a private security company to secure the lockout and engaged in recruitment of temporary staff to replace the striking workers. On 22 August, SHIAWU filed a court complaint against the employer’s actions.

Fashion International continues to deny workers union recognition 16-03-2017

Management at Fashion International continue to deny recognition to the company’s union which is affiliated to the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA) even though in March 2017 more than 84% (1,600 of the 1,900) workers in the company had signed trade union membership forms. Also, in a ballot vote conducted by the Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration Commission, all but one of all the workers voted in favour of the union. Instead, the company on numerous occasions threatened to close down the factory if workers kept asking for recognition of the union.

The need for a union to protect workers’ welfare is reflected in the company’s poor labour and employment rights record. Workers in Fashion International are forced to come to work when sick, as the company refuses to pay sick leave of more than two days duration and doctors’ visits during working time are restricted to only four hours of absence. Under a threat of disciplinary measures, including dismissals, the company also imposes an additional working day by requiring work on Saturdays.

ITUC Report: Workers’ rights in the sugar sector in Swaziland 26-12-2016

The Report, published by the ITUC, and entitled “King Mswati’s Gold: Workers’ rights and land confiscation in Swaziland’s sugar sector”, highlights numerous examples of barriers to the exercise of trade union rights in the sector and blatant anti-union discrimination. This includes the case of Enock Dlamini, a worker of 25 years with the Ubombo Sugar Company who has been charged by the company on numerous occasions for specious offences, as soon as he stood up to defend the rights of returning seasonal workers in his capacity as a shop steward. At the end of 2015/2016 season, the company ended his contract and announced the closure of his whole department.

Police fires rubber bullets at striking workers 15-09-2016

Riot police fired rubber bullets at Plantation Forestry Company workers protesting against an insufficient increase in pay equivalent to 0.35 USD per hour. The dispute at the plantation was ongoing for almost two months and the company used the riot police on several occasions, including on 25 August 2016 when troops fired shots over the heads of striking workers.

Limkokwing University of Creative Technology imposes wage deductions for days of strike09-09-2016

Approximately 100 workers at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology took part in a strike organised on 9 September by the Swaziland Union of Non-Academic Staff for Higher Institutions (SUNASHI). Workers were protesting against the systemic use of short-term employment contracts after the university’s management and staff failed to reach a consensus on the topic. The University was set up in September 2016 after King Mswati III took over the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). It had been announced that in the initial intake the institution would offer scholarships to 300 students drawn from all 15 SADC countries. However, the staff was offered only one-year contract or a maximum of a two-year contract.

The management of the University failed to negotiate with the workers following the strike notice. Instead, it issued a statement in the media in which it warned that wages in respect of the days on strike would not be paid and that striking workers would not be allowed to enter the campus.

Women strikers brutally assaulted by the private security company and the police 09-09-2016

A group of about 15 women working for the Plantation Forest Company (near Pigg’s Peak) were brutally attacked by the police and a private security company, Siyavutsa, during a month-long strike action at the plantation triggered by poor working conditions and very low wages. The women were attacked on their way back to their quarters, around 5 km away, beaten with wooden batons and rifles, and chased by dogs. Five of the women - including the Vice-Secretary of the plantation’s workers’ union, Wendy Simelane, were caught, thrown into a van and transported to Mhlatane station and then to Pigg’s Peak police station. In both locations, they were subjected to brutal beatings, suffocation with plastic bags and waterboarding, performed jointly by the police and the Siyavutsa guards. Wendy Simelane suffered a double leg fracture and was suffocated until she vomited. The workers were then forced to sign false confessions admitting to having started a fire at the plantation’s grounds. The Swaziland Agriculture and Plantations Workers Union (SAPWU) called on the Government to open individual assault cases against police officers, but the police reacted by announcing that they would examine these cases themselves. Both the police officers and the workers will be under investigation.

National Commissioner of Police calls trade unions an “evil” and a “monstrosity” 26-04-2016

National Police Commissioner, Isac Magagula, was quoted during his official opening speech for a course at the Police College in Matsapha as saying that the spirit of unionism was “alien, taboo and evil in the police service”. In subsequent days, he was also quoted as describing trade unionism in the police service as a “monstrosity” and saying that his statements were directed to the members of the Royal Swaziland Police Staff Association as a warning that their organisation was not to be considered as a union.

Trade union demonstration blocked by the police 12-02-2016

A demonstration comprising members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), the National Association of Public Servants and Allied Workers (NAPSAW) and the Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP) was blocked by police forces prior to the opening of the 3rd session of the Swazi Parliament on 12 March 2016. The demonstration was organised in order to push for the release of a salary review report by the Government and to protest against the secrecy of government pay policy for public sector workers.

Union leaders arrested after march to demand pay review publication04-02-2016

Mcolisi Ngcamphalala, a member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and Mbongwa Dlamini, Chairperson of the Manzini regional branch of SNAT were arrested on 4 February, after a march by civil servants to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister’s office the previous day. Some 300 civil servants took part in the march, to demand the much delayed publication of the report of the public service pay review, which had been completed in October 2015.

Civil servants held pickets every Wednesday to protest at the secrecy surrounding the pay review. Civil servants in Swaziland are banned from organising protest demonstrations and therefore resorted to more flexible and small-scale ways of highlighting their demands, such as pickets. Finally they decided to go to the Prime Minister’s office to deliver the petition.
Officers from Swaziland’s serious crimes unit, also known as the Swazi anti-terrorism squad, raided Mcolisi Ngcamphalala and Mbongwa Dlamini’s homes on 4 February 2016. The two were charged with contravening the Public Order Act for obstructing the road to the Cabinet offices and were held in custody before being granted bail of E1,000 (US$60) each pending their trial.

Civil servants from the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), National Association of Public Servants and Allied Workers (NAPSAW) and Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP) tried again to deliver their petition, by marching to the official opening of parliament on 12 February, but were turned back by police.

Trade union activists charged with obstruction for taking part in a picket 04-02-2016

Two trade union activists from the Swaziland National Association of Teachers were arrested by officers from the Swazi anti-terrorism unit, charged with obstruction for taking part in a small picket organised by public service unions and subsequently held in custody before being granted bail of E1,000 (US$60) each pending trial. The picket, which was held weekly to protest the secrecy of government pay policy for public sector workers, was part of the larger protest campaign by public sector workers organised in order to highlight workers’ demands through decentralised, small scale actions to be held within the legal framework of draconian laws prohibiting demonstrations.

Police block public service union representatives from attending court case24-11-2015

The government made an urgent application to the High Court on 24 November to prevent the Public Sector Associations (PSA), composed of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland National Association of Civil Servants (SNACS), Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA), and Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP), from visiting Ministry premises. The PSA had planned to go to the offices of the Ministry of Public Service to demand the release of a salary review report. The Ministry made the urgent application because it considered their planned visit to be a form of protest action.

When representatives of the four organisations – all cited as respondents in the case - arrived at the High Court for the application to be heard, however, they were prevented from entering by the police. The Judge issued an interim order in favour of the government restraining the public sector unions from proceeding with their protest action.

The PSA’s action stemmed from frustration over repeated delays. A consultant had been engaged to conduct a salary review for civil servants at the beginning of September following commitments made by the Government Negotiations Team at the Joint Negotiations Forum with the PSA. Although the report was ready, and there had been a commitment to release it by 25 October, the government claimed the unions could not see it because it had not been submitted to Cabinet. The unions felt the government was treating them and the negotiating process with contempt.

Unions in the public sector are technically not allowed to join bargaining councils or conciliation and mediation boards, and therefore have to call themselves “associations”. Civil servants are not permitted to engage full-time in trade union activities and are often denied the right to travel abroad for international trade union activities.


Mario Masuku, President of PUDEMO, and Maxwell Dlamini, Secretary General of the Swaziland Youth Congress were arrested and charged under the Suppression of Terrorism Act (2008) after delivering a speech during the 2014 May Day celebrations organised by TUCOSWA. In their speeches, Mr Masuku and Mr Dlamini addressed questions with respect to the socio-economic governance of the country and chanted the slogans “Viva PUDEMO” and “We don’t want this system, we don’t want this system.” Now, they may be facing up to 15 years of hard labour in prison, if they are found guilty. More than one year has passed since their arrest but a verdict has still not been delivered. Their application for bail was denied twice even though Mr Masuku is 65 years old, suffers from diabetes and caught pneumonia during his time in detention. Mr Dlamini, who is a student at the University of Swaziland, has been deprived from his right to education as a result of the prolonged detention.

ATUSWA still denied registration13-05-2015

The Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA), was still being refused registration after more than two years of repeated delays and obstacles.
On 13 May 2015, the Labour Commissioner agreed to meet again to discuss the registration issue with ATUSWA, which complied with a request to change the six founding members and to remove the founding members of previously registered unions. The Commissioner indicated orally that all the requirements were met and that the union could be registered after approval by the Minister of Labour. When the union did not hear back from the Commissioner it decided to petition the Industrial Court, which advised the parties to negotiate a settlement outside court. But when ATUSWA once again approached the Commissioner, it was presented with yet another obstacle. The founding members of the union were asked to get a letter of confirmation from their employer in order to prove their employment. No other union had been requested to provide a letter of confirmation, and such a requirement would be likely to deter workers from establishing unions as they would be dependent on their employer’s willingness to provide the letter.

ATUSWA believed there may have been interference in their application by the Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula. According to the Industrial Relations Act, the Minister is not supposed to be involved in the registration of unions. However the Labour Commissioner had always claimed that he could not register the union without the approval of the Minister, who reportedly was suspicious that ATUSWA had a political agenda and should not be registered.

As a result of not being registered, the union is unable to bargain collectively or hold protest actions, and the police deny ATUSWA permission to hold marches and demonstrations.

Repression of TUCOSWA continues, despite legal recognition12-05-2015

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland, TUCOSWA, was finally registered on 12 May 2015, more than three years after its creation, thanks to mounting international pressure, notably from the ILO, over the country’s appalling rights record. Police continued to interfere in the national centre’s activities and attend its meetings however, beginning the day after its registration, when they arrived at a meeting at the SNAT centre. Two days later, on 15 May, they also turned up at a meeting in the TUCOSWA offices.

During an ITUC-led mission to the country in May, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security was not able to give assurance that trade union meetings would not be interfered with by police in the future, despite the registration of TUCOSWA. Furthermore, repressive legislation used by police against legitimate trade union activities had still not been addressed by Parliament.

Teargas and guns fired at protesting textile workers25-04-2015

Police fired guns and teargas at workers protesting against employment conditions at the Zheng Yong Garment Factory in Nhlangano. Over 2,000 workers took part in the protest, which led to a confrontation with the company’s security guards after one worker was assaulted heavily by guards, following a misunderstanding over missing money.
The assault provoked the anger of the workers, which led management to call in the police. Rather than calm the situation however the police only served to escalate tensions, firing gun shots and teargas, a tactic frequently used by police in such incidents.

TUCOSWA threatened by authorities over May Day25-04-2015

At the end of April 2015 Swaziland’s dictator-King Mswati threatened police violence against trade unionists taking part in a planned May Day rally in the major commercial city of Manzini on Friday.
Police announced that only “recognised unions” would be allowed to celebrate May Day and said that they would enforce “law and order” at any rally. The national trade union centre TUCOSWA had still not been officially recognised, more than three years after it first applied for registration, and the ban was believed to be directed primarily at it. The union chose to defy the threat and go ahead with the rally, held at the Salesian Sports Ground in Manzini, the country’s commercial capital. Large numbers of heavily armed police were deployed on the day, resulting in a low turnout by the workers.

Police assault union leader14-03-2015

Muzi Mhlanga , General Secretary of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) was assaulted by police during the operation to prevent the National Executive Committee of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) from taking place at the SNAT Centre in Manzini on 14 March 2015. The police apparently took exception to his attempts to take photographs of their intervention. Witnesses confirmed seeing Mr. Mhlanga being beaten, and he later had to seek medical attention. The police also threatened other members of the NEC when they forced them out of the Centre, tried to read the emails they were writing, and tried to prevent the emails being sent. TUCOSWA Secretary General Vincent Ncongwane further reported that the police demanded the union leaders’ phones because they were taking photos “without permission”, and said that their orders were to crush any TUCOSWA meeting.

Also in March, Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba announced that TUCOSWA was not allowed to invite a delegation of South African trade unionists for a meeting inside Swaziland. He cited the Suppression of Terrorism Act and stated that TUCOSWA was required to seek permission before holding a meeting.

Heavily armed police intimidate striking workers at ANC-owned mine09-02-2015

Some 250 workers went on strike on 24 November, after the mine management refused to negotiate over a US$ 72 housing allowance with the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA).

All legal requirements were observed by the striking workers, and even though the strike was peaceful, the workers were surrounded by police equipped with riot shields, protective headgear, guns and teargas. During the strike, management refused the workers access to water, toilets and medical facilities.

Chancellor House, the investment arm of the ANC, owns 75% of the Maloma mine, with the remaining 25% owned by the Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, a fund controlled by King Mswati III, who is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchs. Recently, the Swazi government announced an immediate ban on all trade union and employer federations, in violation of international labour standards.

Harassment and intimidation as police prevent TUCOSWA meetings01-02-2015

In February 2015, nearly three years after it first applied for registration, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was still awaiting registration, after repeated delays, on the pretext that the law did not provide for the recognition of federations and had to be changed. Meanwhile the national centre continued to face harassment and intimidation.

On 26 February it planned to hold a mass meeting of its members to discuss issues including trade union registration, the country’s loss of trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, collective bargaining rights and the lack of multi-party democracy. The initial meeting could not go ahead because the police told the landlord of the Bosco Skills Centre Hall in Manzini, where the meeting was scheduled to take place, that he was violating Swazi laws by renting the hall to TUCOSWA.

Two days later the meeting was relocated to the Swaziland National Teachers Association (SNAT) Centre, also in Manzini. The police mounted roadblocks around the country and placed uniformed and plain-clothes police in front of the centre, to prevent anyone reaching the meeting. Despite this, more than 100 workers made it to the venue but were prevented by armed police from entering.
These events were repeated two weeks later when on 14 March TUCOSWA tried to hold a meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) at the SNAT centre. One hour before the meeting was due to begin plain clothes police arrived and told those present to vacate the premises, as the meeting would not take place. They then took over the gates at the Centre, to prevent anyone else entering the premises. According to reports, more than 300 police officers were involved in the operation.

Prime minister threatens trade unionists15-08-2014

In August 2014, the Prime Minister of Swaziland, Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini, publicly threatened Sipho Gumedze from the Lawyers for Human Rights and TUCOSWA General Secretary Vincent Ncongwane because of their participation in the US Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC. Prime Minister Dlamini made the following statement during a speech in Parliament: “They leave your constituencies and do not even inform you where they are going and once they come back and you find out that they are from your constituency you must strangle them.”

Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu imprisoned25-07-2014

Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko and the Nation Magazine editor Bheki Makhubu were arrested on 17 March 2014 and 18 March 2014 respectively for writing articles about the circumstances surrounding the arrest of government vehicle inspector Bhantshana Gwebu and the integrity, impartiality and independence of the Swaziland judiciary. The legality of the arrest, detention and charges was successfully challenged before the High Court, resulting in their release from custody for two days. However, they were rearrested and detained when the State appealed the ruling and are therefore again in custody. While Thulani Maseko and Bheki Makhubu were charged with “contempt of court”, the judge convicted them to two years imprisonment instead of the ordinary 30-day sentence on 25 July 2014. Judge Mpendulo Simelane argued that “seriousness of their crimes, their moral blameworthiness and their lack of remorse or regret justify lengthy sentences of imprisonment”.

Suppression of Terrorism Act used to stop trade union activities01-05-2014

Police use the Suppression of Terrorism Act to legitimise interference in trade union activities. For example, the Act was used in May 2014 to arrest and charge activists who spoke at TUCOSWA’s May Day celebration, including student leaders Maxwell Dlamini and Mario Masuku. Both activists remain in jail and have been refused bail. Amendments were submitted for the consideration of Parliament in February 2014 but have not yet been considered. The Suppression of Terrorism Act defines terrorism extremely broadly as an act that “involves prejudice to national security or public safety…and is intended, or by its nature and context, may reasonably be regarded as being intended to intimidate the public or a section of the public; or compel the Government…to do, or refrain from doing, any act.” The terms “national security” and “public safety” are not themselves defined, leaving them open to wide and potentially subjective interpretation. Not only are these concepts capable of broad, subjective interpretation but, in addition, the element of intention is not required. Moreover, the act affords the Minister absolute discretion over the classification of organisations as “terrorist” without making this decision subject to judicial review.

Police interfered in a peaceful protest 12-04-2014

Police interfered in a peaceful protest march organised by TUCOSWA and attended by broader civil society groups against the King’s Proclamation of 1973 and its impact on freedom of association and civil liberties. The King’s Proclamation was decreed on 12 April 1973 and vested the King Sobhuza II with absolute powers and at the same time criminalised political parties and similar bodies.
“I, Sobhuza II, king of Swaziland hereby declare that, in collaboration with my cabinet ministers and supported by the whole nation I have assumed supreme power in the kingdom of Swaziland and that all legislative, executive and judicial power is vested in myself and shall, for the meantime, be exercised in collaboration with a council constituted by my cabinet ministers. I further declare that, to ensure the continued maintenance of peace, order and good government, my armed forces in conjunction with the Swaziland royal police have been posted to all strategic places and have taken charge of all government and all public services […] Political parties and similar bodies that cultivate and bring about disturbances and ill-feelings within the nation are prohibited.”
TUCOSWA requested permission to hold a march but on 4 April 2014 the Manzini Municipal Council denied the federation permission by stating that “April 12 is one most contentious date on which peace and stability in the country is threatened.” The march was intended to proceed from Jubilee Park to St Theresa Hall in Manzini on 12 April 2014. Vincent V. Ncongwane, TUCOSWA General Secretary, and Sipho Kunene, TUCOSWA Deputy President, were arrested at a security roadblock mounted at Mhlaleni in Manzini on 12 April. They were detained at the Manzini police headquarters and were denied access to legal representation. Vincent Ncongwane was transferred to the Mafutseni police station 20 kilometers from Manzini. The police further arrested other groups of workers at all the various security checkpoints mounted on the roadblocks leading to Manzini, detained and later dropped them off in remote places with some having to travel long distances on foot at night to get to the nearest public road. Amongst them were the President of the National Public Services and Allied Workers Union, Quinton Dlamini, and the General Secretary of the Private and Public, Transport Workers Union, Bheki Dludlu.

Basil Thwala imprisoned11-04-2014

Basil Thwala, a paralegal officer at the Swaziland Transport and Allied Workers Union, was arrested on a picket line at the bus station in Manzini following a major bus transport demonstration organised by STAWU in July 2012. Basil was charged and convicted for offences under both the Road Traffic Act and the Public Order Act for being in the front of the bus station protest. He was arrested and taken to a police station where he was not given food or a sleeping blanket. In fact, he had to spend several nights sleeping on the cold floor. Although Basil was initially granted bail, it was later revoked on the basis that he had breached his bail conditions by travelling to a place outside the restriction stipulated in the bail terms. No witnesses appeared in court to verify this allegation. In fact, his bail revocation was pronounced by the High Court of Swaziland when he was not even present in the court. Basil eventually ended up being sentenced to two years imprisonment. He lodged an appeal two months after his conviction, but there was never any indication that it was under consideration. It took the courts less than a month to convict him, but his appeal, filed on a certificate of urgency, was never dealt with. Basil was finally released after serving his full sentence.

Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland not registered04-04-2014

Unions in the textile and apparel, mining, quarrying and related industries, and general manufacturing; metal workers; and unions in the engineering and retail, hospitality and catering sectors decided to merge in September 2013 to form the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA). Before launching its congress on 6 September 2013, the union filed its request for registration and its constitution with the Commissioner of Labour. The legal advisor of the Ministry met with the union leadership and asked for changes in the constitution. Even after complying with the requests, ATUSWA was not registered. On 2 January 2014, the union was told that it could only be registered if its constitution would be amended. The union duly responded and addressed those issues and clarified the basis upon which the application was founded. In a meeting on 4 April 2014 with the Commissioner of Labour, new issues were raised, including the name of the organisation. It was demanded that the word “amalgamated” be taken out, even though another union, the Swaziland Amalgamated Trade Union, had previously been registered without any concerns in this regard. This is one of the delaying tactics that have prevented the registration of ATUSWA for over nine months without any legitimate reason.

General Notice not implemented31-03-2014

The Government issued a General Notice in May 2013 stipulating that pending the amendment of the Industrial Relation Act (2000) that would allow for the registration of TUCOSWA, the social partners would “work together in order to promote harmonious labour relations and ensure a conducive environment for investment and socio-economic development of the country through decent work and recognition of fundamental principles and rights at work”. As a result, tripartite structures of the country were reinitiated. However, outside of the tripartite meetings, TUCOSWA’s activities and programs were continuously disrupted on the basis that the federation was not registered. Therefore, TUCOSWA requested the Government take a clear position on its status and its rights on 23 January 2014 during a Labour Advisory Board meeting. When the Government failed to respond by March 2014, TUCOSWA withdrew its participation from tripartite structures pending its registration.

Union registration19-03-2014

The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) is still de-registered. TUCOSWA has challenged the constitutionality of the government’s refusal to register the federation at the High Court of Swaziland on 11 February 2014. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for 19 March 2014, but unfortunately the government arrested the union’s lawyer two days before the hearing, forcing the union to seek a postponement of the hearing date.

Violations in the transport sector31-01-2014

In December 2013, the Swaziland Transport and Allied Workers Union (STAWU) organised lawful and protected industrial action at the Matsapha International Airport in a pay dispute with the Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority. Following that action, five STAWU union leaders, including General Secretary Simanga Shongwe, were served with notice of intended prosecution under the Road Traffic Act of 2007 for holding a union gathering in the airport car park. These charges still hang over them today. What is quite remarkable about these charges is that the Road Traffic Act applies to offences on public highways and the airport car park definitely does not fall into that category. In an apparent response to the airport strike, the Civil Aviation Authority made an application to the government’s Essential Services Committee in January 2014 for a wide range of airport services to be classified as essential services. This would bring these airport staff under special legislation restricting their right to take industrial action even further.

Police stops memorial service13-12-2013

In December 2013, police did not permit unions and other civil society organisations to hold a memorial service to mourn the death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and to draw attention to the lack of democracy in Swaziland. About 30 police officers stood in front of the entrance of the Lutheran Church where the memorial service was planned to be held and did not allow entrance.

Repression of trade union activities during the Global Week of Action06-09-2013

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.

No functioning collective bargaining institutions20-08-2013

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 Mediation and Arbitration Commission have been unable to enforce decisions given the backlog of cases before the Industrial Court.

The Industrial Relations 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.

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.

Police raided the head offices of TUCOSWA01-05-2013

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.

Arrests of trade unionists12-04-2013

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.

Police violently stopped a prayer meeting09-03-2013

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.

De-registration of federation27-02-2013

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.

Charges against trade unionists13-09-2012

On 13 September 2012, the government withdrew charges against six of the seven suspended teachers who participated in the indefinite strike. The teachers had been charged with vandalism during a picket organised by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers.

The Industrial Relations Act (Article 40) provides for the civil and criminal liability of trade union leaders for legitimate trade union activities.

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. 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.

Continued repression of trade union activity31-12-2010

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, 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, 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 Conventions, it was usually also the first to violate them.

Firm rejection of a police union30-04-2010

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 still leaves the question of trade unions in the police and armed forces to the discretion of Member States.

Unions still refused recognition31-12-2009

The authorities have continued to refuse recognition 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.

Trade unions under fire30-12-2009

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 devoted a special paragraph to Swaziland in its report, a measure reserved for the worst cases of rights violations.

Repression in the textile sector30-11-2009

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 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