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Swaziland unions merge for unity and strength

19 September, 2013On 8 September, 10 unions in Swaziland successfully came together in a merger to form Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (Atuswa) building greater unity amongst workers in the manufacturing sector.

The merger included 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). Atuswa 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 merger process has been supported by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) that has been working with the unions for over a year towards the merger.  The process was also supported by IndustriALL and received solidarity support from other countries.

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 including a panel organized by ITUC to hear experiences of workers, which were suppressed by the government and emphasized the need for unity amongst workers and continued solidarity support in Swaziland.