MATSAPHA:Trade unions representing textile workers in the country are planning a major strike action before Christmas, they accuse Taiwan investors of colluding with the government to underpay employees as means of saving money to be presented to King Mswati as tetfulo.
Tetfulo is a Swati name that refers to the presentation of gifts to the King, this is normally done by subjects and investors who are seeking certain favours from the absolute Monarch. Warnder Mkhonza, the Secretary General of the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) said they are having a tough time trying to force these investors to comply and stop exploiting workers because most of them enjoy royal connections. Speaking to this Swaziland News, Mkhonza said they have noted that Taiwan was now funding government operations through various donations while on the other hand, workers are complaining of low wages. The Secretary General said they have noted that the plight of these workers were political, hence, they would use political strategies to liberate these struggling citizens from the Taiwanese ‘colony’.
“Our country has become more like a Taiwanese colony and this has negative impact in the lives of the working class particulary the textile workers. The Taiwanese donate millions for social responsibility projects including cultural events like Incwala and Umhlanga. This happens while workers are complaining of low wages and government is staggering in addressing this issue because our authorities are highly connected and personally benefiting from Taiwan.” he said.
Mkhonza said the Taiwanese might be doing all this because they have since realized that corruption was legitimate in the country and running in the veins of the royal family.
Reached for comments, Makhosi Vilakati, the Minister of Labour and Social Security said he would investigate the concerns of the textile workers so he can see how their plight could be addressed.
“I will investigate their concerns and see how we can help them. Kindly refer these workers to my office so we can engage them,” said the Minister.
But Thulani Mkhaliphi, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Labour said, the unions were not honest as these Government Gazettes come after a wide consultation and engagements between employers and workers representatives.
“The regulations of Wages Orders or Gazettes that are published by Government on an annual basis are an outcome of consultations between employers and workers on basic minimum standards for each sector of the economy,” said Mkhaliphi.
Thabiso Mavuso, a Labour Consultant and Human Rights Lawyer said Gazettes stipulate minimum wages, hence employers are free to pay workers better salaries.
“The gazette stipulates minimum wages which are a foundation and every employer is expected to respect,” he said.
ATUSWA Secretary General Warnder Mkhonza addressing textile workers