31 August 2018


A situation that could have been contained was exacerbated as a result of amongst other things by poor and or lack of capacity to deal with conflicts at work and arrogance. What started as an unlawful lock-out dispute led to fully blown conflicts by the sheer arrogance and poor judgement by Nhlangano Textile companies’ bosses.


The workers met on Thursday the 30th of August 2018 outside Zheng Yong (SWD) (PTY) LTD to discuss amongst others, their long pending dispute with their employers for refusing to increase wages as per workers’ proposals. When the union officials reported to the members that Zheng Yong in particular and Fashion International in Matsapha have refused to discuss wages not because the companies would not afford but mainly because the companies are of the opinion that wages should be discussed at the Wages Council (a tripartite structure that regulate minimum terms and conditions of employment). All Textile employers but one in Eswatini, refuse to bargain with workers for improved terms and conditions of employment, hiding behind the Wages Order as if it (Wages Order) is meant to be a ceiling of what employers should pay their employees yet it is merely meant to provide a wage base for an employer that have just entered the industry.


It must be appreciated that workers were pushed by the hardships of living to respond in the manner that they responded on the day. It must also be appreciated that had the employers acted in a proper manner the situation would not have developed to a point where even people who are not employees saw an opportunity to vent their anger. It is shocking that some employers decided to lock in workers while they (employers) ran away. We feel that act was irresponsible because anything could have happened while the workers were locked in. The best thing to do under the circumstances was to release the workers for that day.


The employers must appreciate that workers feel cheated and neglected, not only by them (employers) but also by their own government. When all the costs associated with everyday life of a worker keeps rising, the wages keeps shrinking as a result of being poor. In response to the ever increasing costs, the workers resolved that a Joint Negotiations Council (JNC) for the Textile and Apparel industry be formed, a resolution that was dismissed by the same employers and government officials allegedly because “Eswatini is not ready for a JNC”. It is horrifying that government would have this view on collective bargaining eighteen years after the Industrial Relations Act was passed into law by the same government.


We appeal to all employers to use their STATA (Swaziland Textile and Apparel Traders Association), a hidden organization to bargain with ATUSWA, which is the ONLY union representing workers in the industry as opposed to doing all it could to bash and kill our organization. ATUSWA is here to stay for it represent the aspiration of the workers. Employers must appreciate that despite their consistent attack on our organization, we have remained strong and resolute because the workers are fully behind us.


Prepared by



Wonder Mkhonza

Secretary General

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