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24 Jun 2020

Richard Rooney, Swazi Media Commentary

eSwatini: International Trade Union Confederation survey finds eSwatini with worst record for workers’ rights

‘Swaziland among worst in the world for workers’ right, new survey reveals’ 23 June 2020

Swaziland (eSwatini) has one of the worst workers’ rights records in the world, according to the latest annual survey by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The kingdom scored five in the Global Rights Index which depicts the world’s worst countries for workers by rating 139 countries on a scale from one to five based on the degree of respect for workers’ rights.  ITUC said, ‘Workers’ rights are absent in countries with the rating five and violations occur on an irregular basis in countries with the rating one.’ It added, ‘Countries with the rating of five are the worst countries in the world to work in. While the legislation may spell out certain rights workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices.’

…In a survey of workers’ rights in Swaziland (eSwatini) up to March 2020, ITUC reported, ‘Strikes were brutally crushed in eSwatini, where police forces fired live ammunition during a march of 8,000 public service workers in Manzini on 2 October 2019. It added, ‘Another march attended by 3,500 civil servants on 25 September to protest against low pay and rising living costs in the country was violently dispersed by the police with teargas, rubber bullets and water cannons, severely injuring fifteen workers. 

…In October 2019 ITUC condemned police brutality during a week-long public sector strike in Swaziland. Previously it had criticised other police attacks on workers. More than 30 people were injured when police opened fire with rubber bullets. They also used water cannon and teargas on protestors during a three day strike for a cost-of-living salary increase.  ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said in a statement at the time, ‘Respect for workers’ rights, good faith dialogue and a government that responds to people’s needs and concerns – just like any other country, this is what eSwatini needs, not state violence against the people. eSwatini’s King Mswati pledged to us earlier this year to build these bridges, yet now we are seeing the government pulling all stops to undermine them.’