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MANZINI – Civil servants will deliver a petition next Wednesday to the Ministry of Public Service.

This was announced by public sector associations (PSAs) during a press conference at the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Centre Conference Room, yesterday. The PSAs are National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU), Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP) and SNAT.

The petition delivery will be preceded by a public sensitisation march that shall commence at the Coronation Park in Mbabane at 10am. SWADNU President Welcome Mdluli said a thorny issue that affected them as civil servants was the failure to convene on the joint negotiation forum (JNF). The JNF is where government and civil servants through representation by the PSAs engage and negotiate on issues that revolve around their welfare. Mdluli said PSAs had tried in vain to convene the JNF. This, he said, affected their welfare as they could not afford basic necessities. 

“We agreed with government that the salary review should be engaged in every five years and this was made an order of the court; but a year is almost complete without it being implemented,” Mdluli said. He said the negotiations should have been completed in March 2021; such that in April, it was implemented. In light of this, he said it was necessary that next week Wednesday, all civil servants should head to Mbabane to demand the JNF and the salary review.

Mdluli implored civil servants to recall that what was awarded in 2015 was not what they had agreed upon; such that some of the items were to be addressed at a later stage. Making an example, he said nurses were deprived of the occupation specification dispensation (OSD) in that it was acknowledged that their line of work was different from other civil servants and they were to return to the JNF to address this issue. However, this he said, did not happen.
He quoted Genesis 27 verse 40 which reads: “You will live by your sword, and you will serve your brother. But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

The unionist said it was time for civil servants to shake off the yoke that has been on their neck. Worth noting is that according to the July 2016 Collective Agreement, which was then made an order of court, government was expected to commission a salary review exercise during the 2021/2022 financial year.
However, the PSAs said the employer had not followed through on this and only agreed after being taken to court. Subsequent to this, the PSAs supposed that it was then that the matter was recalled to the negotiations chamber with the hope that the process shall then be set in motion.

“The government suddenly questioned the legal standing of NAPSAWU, in a strategy to apply brakes to the salary review commissioning process,” reads a statement that was jointly released by the entities after the press conference. The statement claimed that on Thursday, September 30, 2021, PSAs wrote to government demanding reconvening of the JNF by Wednesday, October 6, 2021. The PSAs claimed that to their surprise, the government never responded to the PSAs letter of demand, to date.

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