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‘DON’T JOIN THAT STRIKE’

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MBABANE – “Schools, hospitals, clinics and all government services will be open as usual on January 28, 2019.”


These were the words of the Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, yesterday as he issued a press statement informing public sector associations (PSAs) not to engage in the strike action scheduled for Monday.


He said partaking in the strike action would be at the expense of the education of pupils and the health of the citizenry.
Instead, he said the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) shall continue to engage unions to encourage them to join the effort to find ways of reducing government expenditures, improving service delivery and improving the economy.


Through Government Press Statement No.1 of 2019, Dlamini expressed concern over the proposed strike action by PSAs.


Illegal


He said the strike action proposed by civil servants, including essential services as called for in the statement published in this publication on January 4, 2019, was illegal and could cause only hardship for striking employees and the people they have been employed to serve.


Members of the PSAs are: the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) and Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP).


The intended mass stay-away by the unions emanates from an impasse between government and the former on the cost-of-living (CoLA) demands.
PSAs demanded 6.55 per cent for their CoLA while government offered zero per cent citing fiscal challenges. The failure to settle on a figure resulted in the concerned parties signing a deadlock. Following the signing of the deadlock, the PSAs have been galvanising their members in all their branches in preparation for the mass protest action on Monday.


Noting this, the head of the 11th Cabinet, said all civil servants shared the pain of zero per cent for the cost-of-living-adjustment (CoLA). With that, Dlamini encouraged unions and their members to join in the efforts to make the country’s economy sustainable.
He cited that despite the fiscal crisis, government had prioritised the payment of civil servants’ wages even to the detriment of other stakeholders while running unfunded deficits instead of minimising the civil service.


He said: “A provision for E500 million was made in the 2018/2019 budget for CoLA increases but this provision was unfunded.”
The premier said it was impossible to raise finance to fund the CoLA increment when government salaries were already at unsustainable levels and there were unfunded deficits and arrears.

 

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