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TUC condemns suspension of union federations in Swaziland

Issue date

In a letter to the Swaziland High Commission in London, the TUC has condemned the suspension of the two national trade union centres and a number of statutory bodies in Swaziland on 8 October 2014.

Her Excellency Mrs Dumsile T Sukati
High Commissioner
Kingdom of Swaziland High Commission
20 Buckingham Gate
London SW1E 6LB

Dear High Commissioner

Suspension of trade union federations

On behalf of the TUC General Council which represent some 5.9m workers in the UK, I write to you to condemn, and express our outrage over, your Government’s moves to dissolve the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA).

We have learnt that on 8 October 2014, Winnie Magagula, Minister of Labour and Social Security, suspended all federations with immediate effect pending legal reforms. The decision will affect not only TUCOSWA and ATUSWA but also the Federation of Swaziland Employers, Chamber of Commerce and a number of other statutory bodies.

Article 5 of ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association ratified by your Government recognises the right of workers’ organisations to join federations and confederations of their own choice. Moreover, in response to a complaint filed by TUCOSWA and the ITUC on 23 May 2012 (Case No 2949), the Committee on Freedom of Association recommended that, pending legislative reforms, TUCOSWA be allowed to function without interference. In addition, an ILO High Level Fact Finding Mission that visited the country in January 2014 recommended the registration of the workers’ and employers’ federations by the end of April 2014. Your government has completely ignored these recommendations as well as repeated calls from the international trade union movement to respect rights guaranteed under international conventions ratified by Swaziland.

We urge your Government to revoke the decision to suspend TUCOSWA and ATUSWA and to engage in genuine dialogue with unions about legislative reforms that will ensure the respect of workers’ rights in line with Swaziland’s international obligations without further delay.

I am copying this letter to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to the International Labour Organisation, as well as trade unionists here and in Swaziland.

Yours sincerely

FRANCES O’GRADY

General Secretary