03rd June 2019


On Friday the 31st of May 2019, the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) leadership, officials and senior Shop Stewards were waylaid and assaulted by seiwu hired mercenaries whom most of them have never been employed in their entire lives.

It is worth pointing out that preceding the assault on ATUSWA by seiwu officials, ATUSWA had called and notified Montigny that they (ATUSWA) would come and proceed with their recruitment exercise. This was an understanding which was communicated by Montigny security personnel that when ATUSWA want to see or organize workers the Montigny management ought to be informed. Further to that the company through the security personnels had indicated that ATUSWA should not carry out its activities next to the company gate but by the main road an arrangement that was grudgingly accepted by ATUSWA.


When we arrived at about 1500hrs, a group of about 18 men, in their plain clothes waiting by the guard house and one of them was carrying a  camera. After the assault we then learned that was of them was the company’s risk manager and some of them were the security personnel.


The assault to the ATUSWA organizing crew was the only way that seiwu thought could counter ATUSWA’s superior organizing and mobilizing capacity which resonates with all ordinary workers on the ground. Workers signed stop order forms, joining ATUSWA in front of seiwu officials and mercenaries, something that angered seiwu to the extent of unleashing violence to the ATUSWA officials. Cde Wonder Mkhonza, ATUSWA Secretary General and Cde Zweli Sihlongonyane a leader who held the position of being ATUSWA’s DSG before the industrial Court of Appeal judgement which removed SMAWU from ATUSWA were the main casualties of the seiwu barbaric action.


This proves beyond doubt that seiwu alone does not have the capacity to organize workers. Their over reliance on cooperation from employers to “organize” workers will soon cause for the downfall of this sham union which was formed solely by employers, supported by same to be used as a barometer by which the rest of the haves, being employers measure the feeling and frustration of the have nots, being workers who continue to be paid peanuts while “represented”.


We applaud the organizers of the union who despite having been exposed to the traumatic experience still insist on enforcing and enhancing the right to Freedom of Association. ATUSWA shall not be deterred; what we started we are going to finish because the workers are resolute in saying that they never joined seiwu in the first place. We have also made our preliminary investigation which suggest that Montigny does not have a legal document in its position which allows them to forcefully deduct workers’ wages in favor of it union (seiwu).


The leadership of the union has laid criminal charges against seiwu officials for the assault at Bhunya Police Station and we hope justice shall be done. We understand that seiwu also opened a case against ATUSWA, how laughable. While would ATUSWA want to assault anyone when workers are joining in their numbers? In a free environment, seiwu would be banned from representing workers for their failure to respect the right to Freedom of Association.


We trust that all stakeholders will condemn the sham union and we further call upon TUCOSWA as our federation to cancel the agreement on appointments to statutory bodies and wages councils it entered into with feswatu, a “federation” of one union being seiwu. TUCOSWA as a federation which is fighting to protect and enhance the rights of workers cannot work with a body which would go to the extent of assaulting people in order to continue violating the right of the workers.


We call on all workers, especially Montigny employees to remain calm and allow the law to take its course. It is a fact that workers leaders were violated but violence does not solve anything. The only way to respond to this barbaric act is for all workers in their numbers to resign from seiwu and join a union of their choice and we advise that union should be organized under TUCOSWA.


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