IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) is overjoyed after the Industrial Court in Mbabane, Swaziland - recently renamed eSwatini - confirmed on April 26 that the Swaziland Processing, Refining and Allied Workers Union and the Swaziland Manufacturing and Allied Workers Union merged to form the union.
Therefore, the two unions no longer exist but are now part of ATUSWA which is a registered union under the Commissioner of Labour.
Reads the court ruling: “In the light of the evidence before the Court, the proper application of the law is that all trade unions that amalgamated ceased to exist and are defunct. Their membership, rights and duties were assumed by the newly formed trade union, ATUSWA”. This puts to rest attempts by the merged unions to revert to their old names and former autonomy. The old unions with support from employers and some in government were bent on dividing and weakening ATUSWA.
However, the court challenge took its toll on ATUSWA finances because the union was unable to receive subscriptions from members who were being claimed by the former unions. This explains the relief to the union brought by this court victory. The Court ordered that the challenging unions to pay the legal costs.
ATUSWA thanked the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland for its support during the court challenge. It also recognized IndustriALL for “standing by our organization when it was not fashionable to do so. We were able to keep the fires burning because of the support we received from IndustriALL”.
Wander Mkhonza, secretary general of ATUSWA says:
“To the employers who took advantage of the situation to frustrate the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining we say shame on you. Workers, who made an informed decision to form this giant union and to stand behind its leadership, will go down in history for standing for their rights when odds were stacked against them”.
Says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa:
“Court battles often waste union time to the extent that its core activities suffer because of the uncertainty created by legal challenges. Therefore, we join ATUSWA in celebrating the court victory, and to use this moment to focus on the important work ahead of recruiting and organizing more workers.”