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16 September, 2013Ten unions in Swaziland have successfully come together to form Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland, Atuswa. The merger builds greater unity amongst workers in the manufacturing sector.
IndustriALL affiliates, the Swaziland Amalgamated Trade Unions (Satu); Swaziland Manufacturing and Allied workers Unions (Smawu) and the Swaziland Processing, Refinery and Allied Workers Union (Sprawu) came together to form the new union, Atsuwa. The merger process was supported by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and IndustriALL Global Union. Atsuwa now represents workers in textile, garment, metalworkers, engineering, mining and quarrying as well as retail, hospitality and catering.
The merger took forward a resolution of the newly merged federation, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (Tucoswa,) to reduce its affiliates from 28 to 3 through merger processes. The congress adopted a progressive constitution that has key elements of worker control and accountability. Delegates mandated Atuswa to take forward key demands at the workplace and to engage stakeholders in the country including government to establish a minimum wage and a ban on labour brokers.
The merger congress took place at the same time as the annual global week of action for democracy in Swaziland. Failure to get any of the planned actions off the ground, which were suppressed by the government, including an event organized by ITUC to hear experiences of workers, emphasized the need for unity amongst workers and continued solidarity support in Swaziland.