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Govt moves to stop teachers' strike

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BY MDUDUZI MAGAGULA

MBABANE– Government has declared  illegal the proposed strike by teachers billed for April 11 and 12.

Evart Madlopha, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service said the strike was illegal because the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) failed to give government seven days notice of intent.

In a letter to the union dated April 5, 2012, Madlopha said the seven days notice was a requirement as prescribed by the Industrial Relations Act of 2000 as Amended.

He said Section 86 in general, when read together with Subsection 2, states that the union was supposed to serve the employer, the Commissioner of Labour and the Commission with notice of intention to engage in a strike action.

This means there is no public sector union that will be able to participate in the strike action due to the above technicality.

None of the unions other than SNAT followed the procedure to strike.

Madlopha said government was notified on April 5 about the strike.

He urged the union to fully comply with the provisions of Section 86 of the Act.

Teachers decided had to embark on a strike to force government to increase their wages by 4.5 percent.

The decision to strike was taken on April 4 when 6 342 teachers from a membership amounting to 7 320 who were eligible to vote on the day, voted for the strike action.

The union has an overall membership amounting to 9 831 and there are over 15 000 teachers who are in government’s employ.

The union said it wanted to strike following the issuance of a Certificate of Unresolved Dispute dated March 12, 2012.

SNAT wants to embark on the mass strike action following the issuance of a certificate of unresolved dispute to the union by the Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration Commission (CMAC).

SNAT was awarded the certificate after talks on the cost of living adjustment between the union and government fell through.

In the notice to government, the union said SNAT followed the principles that guide a strike action as enshrined in the Industrial Relations Act of 2000 as Amended.

Section 86 of the legislation prescribes that for a union to strike over 50 per cent of its membership should vote for the strike action.

The strike was timed to coincide with the pro democracy demonstrations led by teachers in the country last year which were halted by the security forces.

The teachers will strike alongside nurses and civil servants who are also demanding that the government fund public services properly and pay them a living wage.

 

Muzi Mhlanga, SNAT Secretary General briefly said they would meet on Easter Monday (tomorrow) to discuss the matter. A decision will be taken then.

Vincent Dlamini, Secretary General of National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) said his organisation was yet to vote to decide on the strike.

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