02 January 2020

“Interdependency is a fundamental law of nature. Every tiny insects survive by mutual cooperation based on their interconnectedness. It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence. Therefore we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.”    – Dalai Lama.
The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) hails the dedicated members of the union; workers who despite the immense challenges and hardship on them elected to stand by their union.  2019 was the most challenging year in the young history of our glorious trade union organization. Had it not been the love on one another, genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others, those who wish to see ATUSWA perish would have succeeded. When we say our organization is under attack, we do not just say it to hide our inefficiencies but we say it against the backdrop of constant and persistent attack from all angles.
We have one another. In the face of the leadership of the country which find joy in making empty pronouncements without any desire whatsoever to respect the right of workers and individuals, in the face of government which is hell-bent on protecting even the worst employers; we have one another, in the face of employers who refuse to accept that workers are human beings, whose fundamental rights must be protected by everyone; we have one another and in the face of the hyenas who pretend to be with us, yet they want to see us divided and segmented; we stand together. 2019 will be remembered by ATUSWA as the year where the union, through its struggles has unearthed jewels and rough diamonds within the union. In the book of 1 Corinthians 10:13 God says “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it”. With the hardship and attack against the union, new leaders were born and the future of trade union movement looks bright. Through it all we were able to stand firm because God gave us one another.
In 2019, the union witnessed the dismissal of at least two managers as a result of their failure to respect the rights of workers. Workers stood side by side and said “Enough is enough”. These were dismissed because of our collective efforts through ensuring that companies had no choice but to let go their trusted managers. We are quite aware that these managers were scape goats because they were implementing the mandate from those who would later dismiss them. This should teach other managers that employers would use and dump you once you are no longer useful and in the process blame you.
2019 has been a year wherein ATUSWA spent a lot resources towards legal. This is because some employers have resolved to dry the coffers of the union by taking the union to court even when the employers know chances of success are almost zero. At this point in time an employer who is politically connected has instructed counsel in order to jail the leaders of the union solely because we dared challenge the employer and her sweetheart union in a form of a sham. Even with the threat of going to jail looming, our union shall not stop doing what it ought to do; protect its members in particular and workers in general. Through it all, ATUSWA focused on the silver lining and that is why the union has embarked on developing capacity within the union and we are pleased that we are beginning to win complex matters on our own. We also wish to applaud the lawyers of ATUSWA who continue to capacitate and represent the union.
The historic mission of TUCOSWA, our federation is to unite all workers of our land as the only workers federation. In uniting the workers, TUCOSWA should and shall not shy away from resolving disputes between its affiliates and within affiliates, especially when requested to as pronounced at the 2017 workers’ day celebrations at Pigs Peak. We reject the notion that workers who resign from a union affiliated to TUCOSWA to join another do not threaten TUCOSWA since they remain in the federation. In the contrary this is a recipe for division and segmentation which threated the very principle that founded TUCOSWA; to unite all workers of our land. History has informed us that workers who leave another union to join the other end up joining those that are not organized and we have examples where this can be traced. We wish to welcome the support from TUCOSWA affiliated unions who continue to stand with us during the difficulties facing the union and we have a duty to reciprocate the support and unity.
We wish our federation well as it goes to its 3rd Quadrennial Congress. We hope that the resolutions that will be taken at the Congress will inspire workers to join the trade union movement in their numbers and at the same time bring to the fore renewed activism across sectors. Finally we hope the new leadership that shall emerge will work on building unity and cohesion within the trade union movement. Maya Angelou wrote “We need joy as we need air. We need love as we need water. We need each other as we need the earth we share” and this is how each individual within the trade union movement should view one another; that we are stronger together.
The Textile and Apparel Industry continue to be the most difficult   sector within ATUSWA to organize. Despite the fact that our union is the only union organized in the sector and fully supported by the workers, employers continue to refuse recognition to ATUSWA. The Texray Group of companies, Juris Manufactures, Davinscot, FTM Garments and Ho’s Enterprise to name a few still refuse to recognize the union despite having overwhelming support amongst its employees. As we begin 2020 we are entering negotiation season in the garment industry. We have already submitted demands and we expect the employers to negotiate in good faith.
The leadership of the union has undertaken to push for the conclusion of the review application on the matter between our union and SMAWU. We applaud the workers who were organized under SMAWU before our 2013 amalgamation process for rejecting those who wish to see workers divided. We trust the leadership that emerged at the SMAWU Special General Meeting (SGM) will deliver the workers back in ATUSWA in line with the resolutions of the SGM.
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, 2020.

Issued by

National Office Bearers

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