Statement on Stoppage of Operations of TUCOSWA
Thursday, October 9th, 2014
The Southern African Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC) representing 19 major federations in Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) with a combined membership of about 6 million working men and women strongly protest the decision by the Government of Swaziland to forthwith stop the operations of Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the employers federation as announced in the Government Press Statement Number 12/2014 issued by the Minister for Labour and Social Security Senator Winnie K. Magagula on 8th October 2014 in Mbabane.
SATUCC finds the basis outlined by the Government of Swaziland for the Cabinet to take this unilateral decision unacceptable. SATUCC has never come across recommendations and observations made by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in reports of all its missions to Swaziland including the recent High-Level Fact-Finding Mission to Swaziland on the Application of Convention 87 where it states or advises the Government of Swaziland to stop the operation of TUCOSWA and the Employers Federation. Rather the ILO High-Level Fact-Finding Mission report urged the Government of Swaziland to expedite the amendment to the labour laws to allow provisions for registration of employers and workers federations without any delay after observing that no concrete and tangible progress had been made on the various matters concerning the application of Convention 87.
Furthermore, this action is contrary to the February 2013 court ruling that affirmed that TUCOSWA exists in terms of its constitution and not the law. As such how can a Government that claims to uphold the rule of law now turn around and say TUCOSWA does not exist. In addition SATUCC finds it contradictory for the Government to ask the same federations that do not exist by law to wind up and submit returns, which must include operations report and audited Financial Statements, to the Labour Commissioner.
In conclusion, the action by the Government of Swaziland does not show any commitment to providing a conducive environment for labour in the country neither does it show adherence to conventions of the ILO as the Government statement claims. To the contrary this action is in direct violation of the ILO Conventions in particular Convention 87.
SATUCC demands that the Government of Swaziland withdraws unconditionally the decision stopping the existence of TUCOSWA and the Employers Federation. The issue at hand relating to registration of federations of employers and workers has nothing to do with the issue of existence as the court ruled in February 2013. However, ultimately it is the responsibility of the Government of Swaziland to expedite the amendment to the law to allow registration of employers and workers federations through a tripartite process involving employers and workers organizations. Meanwhile they must be allowed to exist and operate as they await registration. The legitimacy of the final amendment will also be called to question in the absence of TUCOSWA’s and the Employers Federation participation.
Austin C. Muneku