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UNIONS SET COLA STRIKE DATE

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MANZINI –The final term of schools is likely to be a disaster! This is because civil servants, including teachers, are set to engage in a mass strike action as of September 16, 2019 and they vowed to down their tools until government award them a reasonable cost-of-living adjustment (CoLA).


It is worth noting that the last term of schools for the year will start on Tuesday September 10, 2019 and the strike is scheduled to commence approximately a week later.
The resolution to engage in an industrial action from September 16, 2019 was taken by public sector associations’ (PSAs) leaders during a meeting which was held yesterday at the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre.
SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini, who spoke on behalf of the PSAs secretariat, confirmed the latest developments.


Notices


He said they were already working on drafting new notices for the strike action slated for September 16, 2019. He said the notices would be issued anytime since the meeting resolved that it should be issued as early as possible.
Dlamini said they reached this decision as per paragraph 38 of the 30-page judgment which was issued by the Industrial Court of Eswatini last Monday.
Paragraph 38 of the judgment reads; “Taking into account all of the above reasons, the strike cannot be allowed to continue in its present form even if the matter included statements excised and the employees who are part of essential services are excluded. In our view, the respondents (PSAs) would require to issue new fresh notices in order to achieve the legal requirements for protected strike.”


Dlamini said the agenda of the meeting was to look into the court’s judgment and after scrutinising paragraph 38 of the order, they resolved to prepare and issue new notices for the strike action slated for September 16, 2019.
Furthermore, the secretary general said since the matter had been in court since January 2019, the morale of their members, somehow was affected.


On that note, he said they were also in the process of coming up with a programme for a series of activities which would be a build-up towards the massive strike action. He said the build-up activities would restore the morale of their membership.
Dlamini then highlighted why they resolved to engage in the proposed industrial action. He said seemingly, government was not willing to reimburse them the 14.5 per cent which had been eroded by inflation rate from their salaries during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years. He said in 2017/18 financial year, the erosion, was 7.85 per cent while in the 2018/19 year it stood at 6.55 per cent.


“We are now on the third consecutive year without an adjustment in our salaries,” he said.
However, it is worth noting that the issue of CoLA for 2019/20 financial year is yet to be discussed at the round table and the PSAs have made it clear that they would not demand anything below 5.5 per cent.
Furthermore, he said about 40 000 civil servants in the country were directly affected by the failure of government to adjust their salaries, which has an effect to over 300 000 people, who depend on the workers for a living.


Interconnections


He said due to interconnections and relationships through extended families, each civil servant was supporting over seven people.
For that reason, he said there was no way the issue could be for civil servants alone.
He added that even when the civil servants went on strike the nation would be affected, so it would be wise for them to support the workers so that the issue could be addressed once and for all.

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