NEHAWU condemns violence against striking Swaziland public sector workers

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] condemns the use of brute force by the Swaziland government in their quest to thwart the strike by public sector workers.

Workers are currently on strike for a 7.8% wage increase while the government is offering a 0% increase. In the run-up to the strike, the Swazi government had been meticulously beating the drums of war against workers, with threats, intimidation and arrests of union leaders. Scores of workers were injured after police fired live rounds of ammunition, teargas and rubber bullets at striking workers yesterday.

As NEHAWU, we find the use of underhand methods to try and break the strike abhorrent and call on the government of Swaziland to desist from using any highhandedness and intimidation against striking workers. Its actions to subdue workers’ demands with violence, resembles that of an authoritarian state.

The government of Swaziland is in gross violation of International Labour Organisation [ILO] conventions on the right to strike and many others. We call upon leaders of South African Development Community [SADC] to ensure the protection of workers’ rights in line with SADC protocols.

It is evident that the structural collapse of virtually every social sector is a result of endemic corruption in which state funds are fleeced by the monarchy whilst the right to resist the super-exploitation of working people is met with naked force. King Mswati and his Tinkundla regime are not considerate of the plight of the people of Swaziland. The regime continues to spend public money on expensive overseas trips and royal ceremonies instead of paying workers decent workers.

The national union wishes those injured a speedy recovery and commend the refusal of workers to be intimidated by gun toting police and for their bravery to fight for their rights to dignified employment. As NEHAWU, we extend our solidarity to all public sector employees of Swaziland till their final victory. In this regard, NEHAWU will be embarking more border blockades as part of putting pressure on the regime.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Zola Saphetha [General Secretary] at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso [Deputy General Secretary] at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba [NEHAWU National Spokesperson] at 082 455 2500 or email: