Africa-Press – Eswatini. TUCOSWA goes ahead with its plans to host the final mass mobilisation exercise today, which is a build-up to the proposed three-day mass protest action for next week (Wednesday – Friday).
This was revealed by the federation’s Secretary General (SG), Mduduzi Gina, who said even though the Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC) had invited them together with government to a mediation session on Thursday, they would be conducting their final mass mobilisation exercise in 14 venues across the country today. CMAC was appointed by the Labour Advisory Board (LAB), which is chaired by Labour Commissioner Mthunzi Shabangu, to be the mediation mechanism in the matter. On August 16, 2022, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) served government with a notice of a three-day mass protest action which is scheduled for September 21 – 23, 2022 and it is about demands which are related to the high cost of living in the country.
However, upon receiving the notice, government through the LAB was roped in to determine the demands’ receivability in terms of the provisions of Section 40 of the Industrial Relations Act of 2000 and the Protest Action Guidelines. Thereafter, the LAB found that the federation’s demands were receivable in that they were measured to be socio-economic in nature and not purely political, the LAB appointed CMAC as the mechanism to mediate with a view to resolve the issues. Gina said at the mediation session, they motivated their demands and the government team asked to go to consults with its principals and promised to come back with feedback on Monday. In fact, he said the mobilisation exercise would provide them with a platform to update workers and concerned members of society about the developments which took place during their mediation session. He said they believed that the developments would assist their members to make an informed decision as the go forward.
“Our position is clear and is that if our demands are not addressed or discussed to our satisfaction, we will roll out the mass protest action, which will be in either a form of a mass demonstration or mass stay away,” the unionist said. The matter started on July 27, 2022, when the leadership of TUCOSWA delivered petitions to the Deputy Prime Minister’s (DPM’s) Office, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Ministry of Commerce Industry and Trade, together with the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) Office. The petitions had about nine demands which are related to the high cost of living in the country and they demanded that government should respond by August 5, 2022. However, government did not respond and the federation resolved that it would organise a mass protest action to try and put pressure on government to address its demands.
Some of the demands included that the prices of commodities should be regulated in consideration of the economic hardships faced by the ordinary citizens and that any hike which would be caused by external forces, should be subsidised through national trusts held on behalf of the nation, like Tibiyo TakaNgwane and profits made from state owned enterprises. The federation also demanded that public and private employers should review the salaries of workers to increase their buying power for money circulation within the economy. They said government as the largest employer should be exemplary in this case.
Another demand was that the political tension which was obtaining in the country had proved to be a hazard for workers in their normal carrying out of their contractual obligations with their employers and that it should be resolved in haste through an all-inclusive genuine political dialogue. In that regard, the federation called for a speedy resolution of the political problems for harmony to exist at the workplace and for the restoration of investor confidence to the country.