Lutfo's comments vex foreign unionists
MATSAPHA – The unionists from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands are concerned about the right to freedom of association in the country.
They said the comments made by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini, showed that the right to freedom of association was thwarted in Swaziland.
The minister, as reported by this publication on Monday, said the unionists were supposed to first declare their presence to government when they arrived.
The three-member unionists said this in an interview with this newspaper at the Matsapha International Airport before jetting back to their respective countries.
UNISON Head of International Relations, a British trade union, Nick Sieler, Polly Jones, UNISON International Officer and George de Roos the International Officer of Abuavabo trade union in the Netherlands, left the country yesterday afternoon after a four-day visit to assess fundamental freedoms in the country.
"We were shocked by the statement made by the minister," said Sieler.
Sieler described the minister’s statement as an unusual request.
"The minister’s statement does not tie up with the freedom of association," he said.
The UK unionist said he perceived the statement as a threat. Sieler said their mission was to strengthen their relationship with the country’s unions, particularly the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) and the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU).
"It was a constructive talk that we engaged in. We never meant to offend anyone," he said.
Sieler was backed by the Netherlands unionist de Roos who said in his over 30 years of travelling around the world on trade union issues, he had never been demanded by any of the governments of those countries to register on arrival.
De Roos viewed the minister’s statement as infringing on the freedom of association.
Jones observed that in the country trade unions were not given the position they deserve.
"In our countries, trade unions are imperative organs which participate actively in matters regarding their welfare and other issues. But in Swaziland, unions are not given their status," she observed.
He urged government to work harmoniously with unions in order to reap socio-economic and political equality in all spheres.
(ITUC) to play a role towards helping TUCOSWA.
But they revealed that they would be keeping a close ear on what is happening in the country based on the fact that the ILO convention would be held in Geneva soon.
SO THEY THINK THEY CAN JUST WALTZ IN AND OUT OF OUR COUNTRY TO CONSULT WITH ILLEGAL ORGANIZATIONS AND THEY EXPECT GOVERNEMNT TO KEEP QUIET? SWAZILAND IS NOT A PUPPET COUNTRY NOR IS IT ANYBODYS COLONY. THEY MUST JUST GET A LIFE. TUCOSWA IS ILLEGAL. SWAZILAND'S PROBLEMS WILL BE SOLVED BY SWAZIS IN SWAZILAND NOT IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, THE USA OR THE NETHERLANDS. PERIOD.
May 24, 2012, 5:15 AM, Lobusika Dlamini
Ever heard of the saying everything you touch turns to gold,well the opposite is true for our hounorable minister Lutfo. Everything he touches turns to mud and if nothing is done about him,he will drive the country's name to his mud. I honestly think you should step down ur excellency.
May 24, 2012, 5:15 AM, Malamza (Malamza19@ovi.com)
Lobusika, you seem to believe, wrongly so, that the unionists had come to meet illegal organisations, whatever that means. Unfortunately that is not so. There is no illegal organisation, if you were referring to TUCOSWA (just my assumption) that entity is not illegal, it is merely deregistered by a government that fears the freedoms of assembly, association and expression that workers' groupings represent. Period. What Lutfo's statement achieves is nothing but to paint an even uglier picture of Swaziland internationally, and remember, it is this very same government that has taken the paint and the brush, and painted its own ugly picture globally, by suppressing every right known under the sun. So, dear Lobusika, stop barking up the wrong tree and open your eyes and realise Lutfo's government has no legitimacy, people have no confidence in it, and they are only leading this country to doom. THe clock is ticking
May 24, 2012, 1:42 PM, Sinqobile
I think the unionists have got the real atmosphere of how things are done in Swaziland regarding the issue of freedom of expression. I hope next time they may come during the workers day (May day) to witness the chaos that police usually do to spoil the party of workers. Then they would in a better position to understand that Swaziland has no freedom of expression at all. Even ministers do not have that right, they are just puppets of the system.
May 24, 2012, 1:42 PM, Phinda S. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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