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GOVT APPLIES TO STOP PSAS’ STRIKE

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MBABANE - Government has filed an urgent application to stop the strike action by the public sector associations (PSA         s).
The urgent application was filed by Attorney General Sifiso Mashampu Khumalo yesterday, at around 6pm.


Respondents in the matter are the National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) and the Swaziland National Association of Teachers SNAT.


The AG averred that the ongoing strike action, which commenced on September 23, 2019, had gone beyond a labour dispute between the government and the unions.


According to Khumalo, the strike action has become untenable due to its threats to national interest.


Disrupted


He informed the court that the members of the respondents disrupted the operations of schools.
“They intimidate and threaten to harm teachers who have exercised their right not to strike. They have vandalised properties at the Ministry of Public Service and Duze Primary School.  They expose children to harm by dispersing them out of their classes,” submitted the AG.


He went on to inform the court that pupils suffered psychological trauma of being torn between those teachers who wanted to teach them and those who forced them out of the classrooms.


“The respondents have shut and still threatened to shut down towns, disrupt the transport, health, schools and government ministries by causing a total shutdown of all these services per their conduct from the commencement of the strike,” he argued.


According to the AG, members of the respondents had mobilised public transport vehicle operators who had joined in as sympathisers and shut down public transport at Malkerns on September 27, 2019.


Khumalo alleged that it was apparent that the harm to be occasioned by the strike could not be substantially remedied at a hearing in due course.
“If the continued strike is not interdicted, the nature of the harm to the economy of Eswatini will be irreversible and prejudicial to the country at large. The lives of teachers and pupils will also be endangered, particularly those who were dragged out of their classrooms,” contended the AG.


Meanwhile, in his founding affidavit, Minister of Labour and Social Security Makhosi Computer Vilakati stated that the ongoing strike has gone beyond a labour dispute between the State and the unions. The minister told the court that members of the respondents were allegedly so reckless that they invaded Nyakatfo High School on September 25, 2019 and allegedly terrorised pupils and teachers.


Fled


“The pupils fled through the classroom windows. A Form II pupil is currently admitted to the Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital after he was stabbed by a window pane in the knee and lost his synovial fluid. He might end up paralysed,” alleged the minister.


Minister Vilakati went on to tell the court that  another pupil at KaMkhweli Primary School was on September 25, 2019 allegedly beaten by the on strike members of the respondents while hiding in class.


He alleged that at some schools, the members of the respondents were met with resistance from the pupils and their pro- work teachers who fought them back.
Vilakati argued that this conduct put the life and safety of the pupils in danger. “Pupils should always be under the care and custody of either parents or their teachers. They should not be forcefully exposed to the strike with attendant risk to life and limbs,” he argued.


According to the minister, the respondents had left some of the schools’ head teachers with a threat of arson and against their families.
He also pointed out that members of the respondents had allegedly threatened to shut down towns, disrupt the transport, health, schools and government ministries.
“They indeed shut down Manzini City on September 24, 2019 and Mbabane on September 25, 2019. In both cities, the violent strikers deviated from the routes arranged for them and brought both the private and public transport to a standstill,” submitted the minister.

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