Masalesikhundleni Street                                                            P. O. Box 1158
Plot #290                                                                                        MANZINI
Opposite: Lulama Health Clinic & Makhosi X-Ray               Tel: +26825059514
Email: tucoswa@swazi.net/tucoswa@yahoo.com
17th April, 2020


The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland in principle welcomed the 20 days partial lockdown earlier announced by the Prime Minister with the understanding that it was designed and intended to protect the citizens of the country against the spread of the deadly Coronavirus. Even at the time when the partial lockdown was announced we had already began a discussion to call for a total lockdown.
We tolerated the government pronounced partial lockdown believing that the Prime Minister was genuine in his undertaking that the government values so highly, the lives of all Emaswati and all the people who are resident in the country. We understood the government to be acknowledging that human life is sacrosanct and cannot be revived neither resurrected once lost and further that it cannot be put on competition with the appetite for profits and economic stability.
It is our strong belief that, there could be plans to revive the economy but no plans can be put in place to raise the dead. The government has a duty and an obligation to protect the citizens of this country against any attacks in this case the Covid-19 and such measures taken to do so, must not only be done but must be seen to be done

The Covid-19 has proven to be having a potential to wipe the entire population if the priorities of those that have the mandate to govern are wanting. As a nation we cannot afford to be seen choosing the economy and the desire for profits over human life.
The Federation accepted the partial lockdown with the hope that it was a first line defence against the spread of the virus; this was despite the obvious fact that some of the industries that were designated as essential service providers were in fact not essential.Even if, one were to accept a varied definition of essential services by giving it a context within the meaning of the current situation, it could not have been true that industries in the manufacturing of
timber products were carrying out any relevant essential work.
What is essential about manufacturing planks and treated poles? This designation was made, despite that these industries are by their production nature, labour intensive. It is general knowledge to
any reasonable person that these industries are dominated by vulnerable and exploited workers who are easily intimidated by the employers whose sole interest is to continue quenching their unending thirst for profits even at the expense of the workers’ lives.
It is very clear to us that the designation of such essential industries was clouded by political influence than the reality of the virus situation. The government is warned against politicizing the virus as such tendency may cause instability in the economy and industrial disharmony. The timber production industry is not essential, it is a high risk  sector and it must be shut down for the sake of the poor and vulnerable workers. A fatality has already been reported in that sector, the passing away of one is too many for us, and may his soul rest in peace.
We note that the statistics of the prevalence of the virus does not support the flexing of the partial lockdown rules, expected practicesand conduct. In fact it calls for tightened measures.
It is a political blunder and an unacceptable behaviour for the government to open up the economic activism as if things are normal. The country is risking being locked out by the neighbouring countries due to its behaviour of taking the Covid-19 for granted.
It is a very unfortunate joke that the government has since permitted the transport sector to operate at 70% capacity, meaning a 70 seater bus can now carry 42 passengers despite that only 20 people are in terms of the rules permitted to gather at any one point and time. It is very impossible that passengers could be compelled to wear masks when the masks are not provided.
If the government is serious about containing the spread of the virus, a total lockdown is necessary in this sector. The working class and the poor are the only clients of the public transport sector and they are the most vulnerable in all aspects as they can’t even afford to buy the masks, they must be protected. We have learnt that some passengers are borrowing used masks to board public transport. This is not working and it must be stopped before the population gets wiped off by the virus.
We have further noted that, some employers specifically in the Textile and Apparel Sector have not paid the workers for all the days of the partial lockdown. The workers were paid only for the number of days which they have actually worked before the lockdown.
The Employers are refusing even to engage the recognized Unions despite the regulations issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. This is illegal and it must be stopped. On the other hand the landlords are demanding rent from these workers some of whom have received a three days wages pay.
It is important to state for the record that workers are ready and available to render services to the employers in terms of their contracts of employment. It is unacceptable therefore for the employers to apply the “No work No Pay” principle. The government is formally advised that the workers intends going back to work in their numbers if their payment situation is not attended to. This could be a very unfortunate situation as it may disrupt the measures being taken to curb the spread of the virus.

The relaxation of the lockdown regulations does not have a human face; it disregards the reality that the Covid-19 is a deadly virus and that any easing of the measures required for its prevention could result into a catastrophic situation. The government should ready itself to take the genocide blame as it has thrown up the lives of the citizens.
We call upon the Government to call off the easing / relaxation of the Covid-19 regulations as it not supported by any finding that there is improvement in the spread of the virus and because it is a bad experience. The government is further called upon to intensify inspections to monitor compliance with the ILO, WHO as well as the Ministries’ own Covid -19 regulations.
We further call upon Employers to engage honestly with the workers to find win – win solutions during these trying times. We shall as a matter of fact engage with employers at a high level if there’s continued disregard of the regulations as workers may be compelled to remove themselves from hazardous working environments.
On our part, we call upon our members to continue observing the preventative measures as communicated by the Ministry of Health and other legitimate health institutions.
Our general membership is further informed that the Federation’s activities and gatherings remain suspended. The suspension of the gatherings includes our annual Workers’ Day celebration.
Issued by the TUCOSWA Secretariat
Mduduzi C. Gina
Acting Secretary General -+26876119211
Muzikayise G. Mhlanga
Deputy Secretary General- +26876023348

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