STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE MINISTRY OF LABOUR AND SOCIAL SECURITY ON ATUSWA.

 

 

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA), a worker loved trade union organization is saddened and dismayed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s attitude towards the union. The conduct displayed by the Ministry and the manner in which the Ministry is hell-bent on bringing ATUSWA where it has no business is unbecoming. This only confirms that the vindictive, venomous and acrimonious attitude which borders on maleficent towards ATUSWA has rubbed off from the commissioner of labour to the Principal Secretary of the Ministry whom in all fairness is not appraised with the history of the dispute.

 

ATUSWA’s view is that the vindictiveness on the labour commissioner’s part is born out of frustration and incapacity on his part. The Kingdom of Eswatini’s department of labour has never been so poorly led before, a view that is shared by almost every worker, employers and equally most within the ministry itself. This should teach all of us that promotions should be based on merit as opposed to favoritism.

The obsession to demonize and denounce ATUSWA has clouded a very simple matter which has been made to be what it is not. No wonder the ministry continue to raise issues that were decided by the Courts of our land. The issue of Section 27 of the Industrial Relations Act as the ONLY provision for registration of trade unions was adequately addressed by the court and those who still raise that argument say a lot about their appreciation of the law. Also the Industrial Court and Appeal Court accepted that there was an amalgamation. The only difference is that there Appeal Court made a finding that the decision to amalgamate should have been taken after a secret ballot was conducted by SMAWU, a view that is not supported by Section 41 of the Industrial Relations Act and is part of the grounds that we have raised in reviewing the Appeal Court decision.

 

The Commissioner of Labour was not called upon to conciliate, if he was requested to intervene at all, between SMAWU and ATUSWA but was called to conciliate between the alleged two factions within SMAWU and we do not understand how the name of ATUSWA has become so central in the matter.

 

ATUSWA accepted the Industrial Court of Appeal judgement and as soon as that judgement was delivered ATUSWA wrote letters to all employers who had recognition with SMAWU that ATUSWA would no longer be representing their employees. This was despite that we are not happy with the Appeal Court decision and that is why we have since made an application to review the Industrial Court of Appeal judgement which is being opposed by only the Commissioner of Labour. Moreover, ATUSWA gave space to the comrades from SMAWU to reconstitute their union in full freedom, something that the Commissioner of labour was and is not prepared to do hence his interference which is totally against Section 99A and 103 of the Industrial Relations Act. The quoted Sections in this paragraph are Sections which domesticate Convention 87 Article 3 (2) which reads “The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise therefore”.

In the past we have informed the Commissioner of labour that instead of appointing proxies to lead trade unions, he should instead establish and lead his own trade union where he will be empowered to speak about trade union subscriptions apart from the duties of the commissioner of labour to receive audited financial statements form all trade union organizations. Despite the Commissioner of Labour’s efforts which culminated to the formation and quick registration STRUWU, a calculated move which was designed to take away members from ATUSWA; a plan which crushed on its face since workers rejected the sham. We want to remind the Commissioner of labour that subscriptions are for workers and their purpose is to service the workers and that workers have been serviced by ATUSWA such that since the judgement of the Industrial Court of Appeal, workers in their numbers have indicated that they want to revoke their membership with SMAWU and join ATUSWA a request we have consistently deferred as ATUSWA in favor of unity.

 

At least now we understand why despite our numerous complaints through formal letters to the ministry on worker rights violations, the ministry has chosen to ignore us. We wish and hereby inform the ministry that we are not going to be easily silenced by their inaction. If the government of Eswatini through the ministry of labour which has been coopted by the incapacitated labour commissioner to ignore us, we are going to take our complaint to the international stage where government would be forced to respond to our issues.

 

We call on parliament to investigate the commissioner of labours’s fitness to hold office and to take drastic steps to improve the capacity of the department because with a weak department of labour at a strategic and leadership level the country will always find itself on the international spotlight for reasons which should have been resolved as early as possible.

 

Further, we call on the Honorable Minister to ensure that individuals who bring negative energy towards industrial harmony are removed from the system.

Issued by

 

National Office Bearers

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