Public workers in Swaziland have been on strike since 21 June. They are demanding a pay rise of 4.5 per cent, well below the rate of inflation in Swaziland and a mere fraction of the 30 per cent pay rise that Swaziland’s parliamentarians have awarded themselves.
Until now, the strikers have been met by regime threats of salary reductions or being sacked, riot police and armed forces’ intimidation and beatings, tear gas and rubber bullets. Since 1 August, the government has fired hundreds of teachers across the country, including the entire executive of EI’s affiliate, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
Sending a message Media reports indicate that the government has instructed the Teaching Service Commission to fire teachers as a strong message to any worker who may think about participating in a strike action.
“The struggle for the public servants is still on. SNAT had a mass meeting and the teachers resolved to press on for yet another week,” said SNAT General Secretary Muzi Mhlanga.
EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen said: “The teachers have given all pro-democrats a challenge: they are refusing to bow down to the threat of the brutal regime. All teacher unions around the world stand by their Swazi colleagues and are impressed by their determination and dignity fighting for their rights.”
Population poverty Over two-thirds of the Swazi population lives in absolute poverty. Half the population receives some sort of food aid and the country has the highest HIV and tuberculosis rates in the world. Most families cannot afford to send all of their children to school.
Swaziland’s royal family has an annual allowance of €20 million and its absolute monarch, King Mswati III, has increased spending on his security forces and continues to spend lavishly on his personal life.
EI, ITF and PSI have launched an online campaign in partnership with LabourStart to condemn the governmental crackdown on Swazi teachers.
Send your message to the Swazi authorities now by clicking here!