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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements


14 October 1997

It is with a great sense of frustration that we again come out in support of the struggles of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) against the intransigence of the Swaziland authorities. This struggle has been going on for a very long time. Since 1993 there have been constant tensions between the Swaziland authorities and the trade union movement in Swaziland. During these tensions the union leaders of the SFTU have been detained and false charges laid against them. On one occasion the General Secretary of the SFTU was kidnapped locked in the boot of a car.

Several international delegations have been to Swaziland to try and assist in resolving the impasse between the government of Swaziland and the trade union movement. These include organisations such as the SATUCC, ICFTU, SADC and the ILO. Sadly, and regrettably, these delegations have had their efforts spurned and their recommendations scorned by the Swaziland authorities. Agreements that have been reached in the Labour Advisory Board (LAB) have not been honoured by the Swaziland authorities, yet the Swaziland government is represented in this tripartite forum.

It is becoming a habit that every year the SFTU is forced to embark on mass action because the Swaziland authorities do not take heed of their concerns, and the concerns of the Swazi citizens. Every year we are called upon to try and assist in resolving the impasse. Even internationally respected individuals such as President Mandela, President Chissano and President Mugabe, have on their capacities as SADC leaders intervened, but their efforts have been frustrated by the Swaziland authorities.

The Swaziland government has consistently blamed external interference for their problems. However, they voluntarily signed the core conventions of the ILO. When they signed these conventions they committed themselves to a labour legislation that respects trade union and worker rights. COSATU in line with its principle of international worker solidarity will always do what it can to help the SFTU and other democratic forces overcome this feudal and undemocratic regime which is extremely anti-trade union. Solidarity knows no borders when human and trade union rights are violated.

We take this opportunity to express solidarity with the SFTU and other democratic forces engaged in the struggle to make Swaziland a democratic state. We support the current mass action undertaken by the workers, students and the teachers in Swaziland. If we were in their position we would probably have taken the same decisions. Even though it is at times frustrating to always come out and demand the same things, we will not tire until the government and authorities of Swaziland come to their senses and honour the agreements they have signed with their social partners, the ILO conventions they have voluntarily signed, and move the country into an irreversible process towards full democracy.

In due course we will decide, together with the SATUCC, on the forms of action to take to pledge solidarity with our comrades in Swaziland.

Issued by: Zwelinzima Vavi DEPUTY GENERAL SECRETARY