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'˜SD without a labour federation'

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MANZINI – TUCOSWA leaders believe that the country is now without a labour federation, following the annulment of its registration by the Industrial Court.

The Industrial Court ruled in favour of government on Tuesday and said the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) was improperly registered in terms of the Industrial Relations Act of 2000 as amended.

TUCOSWA Secretary General, Vincent Ncongwane, yesterday said the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) and the Swaziland Federation of Labour (SFL) both ceased to exist last year, after the formation of TUCOSWA.

He said even the law that put them in place, the Industrial Relations Act of 1980, was repealed.

"As for the SFL and the SFTU, I don’t think they can be revived again because they do not exist now. The overall implication is that there is no federation now," Ncongwane said.

TUCOSWA recently announced it was pulling out of the Labour Advisory Board and other Statutory Boards because of government’s refusal to accept the registration of the federation."

However, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Lutfo Dlamini, said TUCOSWA leaders were misinterpreting the judgment of the Industrial Court.

Meanwhile, Ncongwane said the decision to appeal the court ruling or not would be taken by General Councils of TUCOSWA at Shosholoza Preschool on Saturday.

In a later statement, he said TUCOSWA had studied the ruling of the Industrial Court and found that it casts doubt over other federations operating under the Industrial Relations Act.

"As we said before, we would not wish the employer federations any ill, it is just that for government to go to court to query only the registration of TUCOSWA is a clear unmitigated political ploy as it could not dare question the validity of the registration of the employer federations.

"We are now free to take the matter further in any forum from within and outside. Government’s actions show that in its eagerness to frustrate the operations of TUCOSWA, it has rendered the whole national industrial relations arena to shut down. Indeed we may hazard to say that the very court we were taken to by the government, is made up of the judge and two court members each nominated by the employers’ and workers’ Federations — bodies which according to the judgment could not have been registered in terms of the Act, there being no provision for the registration of same.

The effect of the judgment is that as there is no provision for the registration of federations in the Industrial Relations Act, such federations cannot be federations in the eyes of the law." Ncongwane said It does not help for the Government to argue that it published the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill, Bill No. 10 of 2012 on November 27, 2012 to regularise the position.

"That was deliberately late as government was aware that there was no way the Bill could be graduated to an Act within a short space of time," Ncongwane said.

 

The Secretary General said it would seem that government was comfortable with the existence of federations while there was SFTU and SFL and was disturbed with the coming into being of a combined force called TUCOSWA.

"Government could have prepared the Bill much earlier than it did and we could probably have an Act by now that regularises the position. Now it has left the industrial relations arena in tatters, so much for the much avowed wish for ‘social dialogue," he said.

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