MBABANE: Over 18000 textile workers might lose their jobs or be subjected to salary cuts, Warnder Mkhonza, the Secretary General of the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) told this Swaziland News in an interview.
The Secretary General said the 9000 previously reported by the media does not reflect the true situation on the ground as the operations of almost all the textile companies were affected by the COVID-19 crisis. He said the 9000 was just an official number of calculated based on companies that applied to government to lay-off workers adding that some textile entities sent workers home without following the labour laws.
“Workers in the textile sector earn close to nothing. COVID-19 came at a time when we were negotiating with employers for salary increment. It is disturbing to note that some employers are hell bent on being delinquents who think of themselves as above the law. When other employers applied for lay-offs, some behaved like they are not privy of the Industrial Relations Act and sent the workers home without following procedure. We condemn such an act with the contempt it deserves. Those workers who are back at work have had their salaries cut by almost 50%” said the Secretary General.
Reached for comments, Makhosi Vilakati, the Minister of Labour and Social Security said he was in a meeting and promised to respond later on the matter.
But Mduduzi Gina, Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) encouraged the affected workers to approach ATUSWA or TUCOSWA for assistance in terms of emerging relevant dispute solution mechanisms for the restoration of their rights.
“If those claims are correct, it is a very clear violation of the regulations issued by the Ministry of Labour. This is actually a violation of the basic tenants and foundation of the lay-off concept as envisaged by the Textile and Apparel Sector Wages Regulation Order. Those employees who may have been laid off under such circumstances are entitled to be paid their full wages” he said.