NEW YEAR STATEMENT BY THE AMALGAMATED TRADE UNION OF SWAZILAND (2019)

01 January 2019

NEW YEAR STATEMENT BY THE AMALGAMATED TRADE UNION OF SWAZILAND

A well-known American film critic writer Pauline Kael said – “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If there is a chance in a million that you can do something, anything, to keep what you want from ending, do it. Pry the door open or, if need be wedge your foot and keep it open”. This hold true to manner in which the ATUSWA family approached the man made challenges engulfing our glorious trade union organization. The year 2018 will go down in history as the most challenging year since the formation of the ATUSWA, yet again will also be remembered as the year in which the union in a big way worked towards meeting its historic objective as a trade union organization as enshrined in its constitution to “ To advance and defend the interests of workers in respect of all matters of mutual interest between workers and their employers in order to improve the standard of living of the union’s members, workers and the working class in general”.

Towards the end of 2018, our union together with the majority employers concluded a collective agreement which we shall use a building block towards realization of a Joint Negotiations Council. We advise employers to embrace the JNC idea as it could resolve a lot of challenges engulfing the industry. The informal discussions taking place between the union and some influential stakeholders in the industry must inform the bigger discussions going forward.

The union recognizes the only way to build a self-sustainable organization is through organizing and recruitment. It is a pity that we are working in an environment where the will of the workers is not respected. As we write this statement our union have three cases on recognition pending at the High Court as a result of review applications by employers seeking to overturn recognition awarded by the Commission, six pending at CMAC as a results of employers refusal to respect the right to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining. In total the pending recognition cases represent 5377 members who have signed stop order forms in favor of ATUSWA. We call on employers to accept that workers are also human beings. We appreciate that they would have preferred another union to represent their employees but workers continue to choose ATUSWA. The more they frustrate ATUSWA the more it is endeared by the workers.

It saddens the leadership and the entire membership of our organization that the resources of the union has been used to defend needless litigation perpetuated by individuals who do not even deserve the audience of any court of law on trade union issues since they are not employees to begin with. It boggles our mind that the labour department as led by the Commissioner of Labour himself have the audacity to advise employers to recognize non-employees as leaders of a union. We are consoled that the employers are beginning to reject such advises. Those wanting to divide workers might have won the appeal which was flowed to the core but it gives us comfort that they did not and will never win the hearts of the workers. We applaud the “SMAWU” members for having taken the union back to the hands of the workers and we commit to work side by side with the workers in line with the resolutions taken at their Special General Meeting. Wedge drivers are a cancer that shall be removed from the body of workers. We have mandated our capable legal team to review the Industrial Court of Appeal on its judgement which smacks judicial overreach. As much as we are confident of a positive outcome in court, we shall not abandon our duty to work the ground because after all is said and done, workers cannot be organized through the courts; workers believe a trade union that deliver on its promises. In legal terms, we appreciate that SMAWU is alive and existing but that is where it ends for in the minds and hearts of the workers, SMAWU amalgamated with others to form ATUSWA.

We are grateful that our union remain part and parcel of TUCOSWA. We understand that unity remain paramount, if workers must make advances in Socio-Economic interest and we are happy to fight side by side with our brothers as sisters. We implore the leadership of our federation to work towards fulfilling its primal mandate, that of uniting workers of our land. While we appreciate that we ought to raise our discontent within the structures of the federation, we are alarmed by the manner in which the federation handled deployment to various tripartite structures as it deepens the problems we have had over the past four years more especially when some “worker leaders” who sometimes represent employers are deployed to “represent” workers. We have a duty to protest and to protect the structures of the federation when there are elements that seek to usurp powers from mandated structures. We were relatively pleased when our mother body announced on workers day that it would intervene where there are internal dispute within affiliated unions and we implore the federation to do everything in its power to ensure that democratic processes and decisions are protected and we feel our sister organization organizing in the agriculture sector (SAPWU) should be jealousy protected from wedge drivers.

As we enter 2019, we wish to remind all and sundry that a trade union is an organization that strive when internal democracy respected and this is what seem to elude many. Internal democratic processes, structures and decisions are the cornerstone of the existence of a thriving workforce. To this end ATUSWA intends to establish and strengthen structures that protect and enhance the rights and interests of groupings and individual members within the union like the women and youth structures.

In 2018 the union started informal discussions with various employers regarding the cost and living conditions workers face and deal with around the industrial areas of our country. We cannot continue to accept a situation where landlords just raise rentals when they feel like in the face of poor terms and conditions of employment and living conditions.

On behalf of the National Office Bearers, our staff and the entire leadership of the union we send our profound revolutionary greetings and wish our members, all workers; organized and unorganized, our legal team, our federation and our International allies a prosperous, peaceful and happy new year, 2019.

Issued by

Wander Mkhonza
ATUSWA Secretary General

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