MBABANE: King Mswati’s Government through the Acting Labour Minister, Pholile Shakantu has approved basic minimum wage Gazettes that will allow employers within the various industries to exploit workers by paying low salaries as little as $79.00(E1,100.00).
Eswatini is a tiny Kingdom situated in Southern Africa with about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, King Mswati who doubles as a businessman has been colluding with private companies to manipulate the law and pay workers low salaries. As a result, some workers within the various industries are struggling to put food on the table due the high costs of living.
It has been disclosed through the Government Gazettes that some industries with a low minimum wage have companies linked to King Mswati and are expected to use these newly approved Gazettes to pay low salaries and generate more profits for the King.
Under the current Gazette, Montingny Investments,a forestry company linked to the King through Tibiyo TakaNgwane will pay a Chainsaw Operator a minimum of E274.00(two hundred and seventy four Emalangeni) per week and or E1,096.00 per month. However, this is not to suggest that the company is paying exactly the figure in the Gazette as some companies pay slightly more but the law does not force them to do so.
Reached for comments by this Swaziland News, Andrew LeRoux, the Executive Director at Montingny Investment who doubles as the President of Business Eswatini clarified that these were basic minimum wages and companies can always pay more.
“Given that there were no increases in 2020, Business Eswatini and Montigny fully support these increases in the Minimum Wage. Employers supported this at the Wages Council. Bear in mind that these are Minimum Wages, and Companies, with market conditions allowing, can always pay more” said the Business Eswatini President.
A questionnaire was sent to Government Spokesperson Sabelo Dlamini, however, he had not responded at the time of compiling this report.
The hospitality is another industry where the King has business interests, through the Tibiyo TakaNgwane, Mswati owns hotels that include the Royal Villas, government has placed a mere one thousand two and ninety two Emalangeni(E1,292.00) as a basic minimum wage, this means employers within this industry can pay more through collective bargaining or at their own will.
Reached for comments, Wander Mkhonza, the Secretary General of the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland(ATUSWA) said the recently released Gazettes was an indication that the gap between the rich and poor was widening.
“We have been mentioning that this thing of increasing Wages with the percentage formula was unfair to the workers who are lowly paid. Unfortunately, we are operating in an environment where companies are protected because they sustain the Government. Some of these companies in the textile industry, their owners are from Taiwan, these companies are protected because Taiwan has taken over social responsibility in the country something that should be done by the Government”, said the ATUSWA Secretary General.
Mkhonza further mentioned that when they negotiated with employers as trade unions for better wages they faced challenges as Government’s representative always sided with employers.
Eswatini has about 70% of the population living below the poverty line, some of the citizens who struggle to put food on the table on a daily basis are workers who earned low salaries despite the ever increasing costs of living.
Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland(TUCOSWA) took a resolution to demand a national minimum wage of three thousand five hundred(E3,500.00) for every employee in the country.
Matsapha Industrial Site