King Mswati lll’s government entered into an agreement with teachers and civil servants that there would be a Cost of Living Adjustment(COLA) every year awarded so that the workers would be able to cushion the effect of inflation on the purchasing power of their salaries.
But this has not been the case for the past 3 years. This is dishonesty on the part of the employer and has pushed workers onto forced slavery because they are now getting far less than what they had agreed on with the employer. Over the weekend I engaged a teacher working in the Lubombo region who told me she was having it tough as she had had to use loan sharks to survive and she is very embarrassed to go to town as she cannot settle her debts with the loan sharks. She asked not to be quoted. I then engaged the Secretary General of Swaziland National Association of Teachers, Mr Sikelela Dlamini who said, “Teachers are facing an uphill battle in terms of coping with life from the little wages they are getting. A degree holder earns about E16 000 (just less than $1000) per month. 3 years without any adjustment has eroded the purchasing power by 20%. Looking ahead it is going to be horrible for the teachers and civil servants. After some deductions (tax , pension and Coop) it comes down to E10 000. Generally our members are parents by nature and they have to pay for the education of their children at school and tertiary institutions. This means they have to raise loans with banks. This brings the balance to about E4000 per month. Then comes food, rent, travelling, clothing and building. Our members in company schools are having it tough because the companies like Montigny are charging at commercial rate which means the teacher has to pay up to E2500 pm. They are being pushed into perpetual poverty” It is important to bear in mind that not all teachers are degree holders , therefore, they earn less than this.
Teachers and other civil servants during a protest