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MANZINI – Its jobs galore in South Africa and Lesotho for the retrenched 1 450 workers of the Tex Ray Factory.

Workers unions in the two countries are currently busy assisting interested employees with documents to legalise their employment in both states.
According to the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA) Secretary General, Wonder Mkhonza, the South African Textile Workers Union (SATWU) has agreed to assist all Swazis currently working illegally in factories located in Newcastle, SA to get work permits.

Mkhonza mentioned that their counterparts in Lesotho revealed that there were no reports yet of Swazi migrant workers employed illegally in factories in that country, though they were willing to assist.
This agreement was reached following a successful three-day workshop held in Durban last week at the Riverside Hotel. The workshop, hosted by the International labour Organisation (ILO), was attended for trade unions representing textile workers in the three countries, namely; Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa.

It was aimed at regulating the textile industry between the three countries. “Our South African counterparts will undertake to assist  all Swazi migrant workers to process legal working documents such as work permits through the assistance of the South African Commercial Allied Workers Union (SACAWU) and we urge the about 75 currently in that country to approach the union urgently,” Mkhonza said.

 He explained that the meeting was also aimed at strengthening the ties of textile workers in the different countries, especially because Swazi workers were flocking to the two countries after the retrenchment exercise, which took place at Tex Ray factory recently.
He mentioned that the workers would be assisted through the union to source proper housing units to rent as currently most of them were housed within the factories.

“Trade unions are in place in these countries to assist all workers. It is their duty to ensure that even the migrant workers join these unions,” Mkhonza said.
The news comes at a time when 1 450 textile workers are still grappling with the effects of unemployment after having recently lost their jobs following a massive retrenchment exercise that took place at Tex Ray in Matsapha about a month ago.
Mkhonza said even those workers who decided to seek greener pastures in neighbouring countries were free to do so as the unions were waiting to assist them with the documents needed to work legally in the respective countries.

“Workers shouldn’t sneak into South Africa and work under strenuous conditions at the mercy of their employers. They should become members of the unions to enjoy the vast benefits of being unionised even in foreign countries,” Mkhonza pleaded.

Currently, a local factory is in the process of establishing a sister company in Lesotho. According to certain workers employed by the company, a number of employees have been chosen to travel to the sister company in Lesotho, where they will be teaching the workers  how to produce good quality merchandise according to the high standards already set by local factories.

A source said a group of the best textile workers, hand-picked by their employer, were expected to leave the country for Lesotho. This had not yet taken place due to logistical issues.
The source confirmed, however, that the human resources manager was currently in Lesotho to oversee the new factory plant currently being set up there.

The source was adamant that there was no one at management level who was present to respond to questions from this reporter but confirmed that their factory had no intention to close as they had orders and all was normal.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Winnie Magagula has lauded the developments which will result in the ease of unemployment of the retrenched textile workers.

She said this was normal practice. “Swaziland has also imported skilled workers from other countries. We cannot prevent workers from seeking employment across the borders as we encourage employment for Swazis,” she said.

The minister did, however, stress the fact that migrant workers should ensure that they have all the necessary legal documents that would allow them to work in the foreign states where they chose to seek employment.

“As a country we prefer having our citizens employed as opposed to remaining idle at home without jobs,” she said.

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