Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Swaziland government moves to stop strikes

Swaziland is bracing for widespread protests around the April 12 anniversary of the King's 1973 ban on political parties. The government has not reacted well.

Swaziland has experienced unprecedented waves of protest and criticism since it found itself in a financial crisis. In the most recent protest action, thousands of students took to the streets in late March after the government cancelled scholarships. This four-day protest is set to be on a much larger scale. South Africa's COSATU has pledged support and called on unions across the continent to do the same.

In an apparent preemptive move, a new umbrella labour body, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (Tucoswa) - formed when the two largest existing trade unions deregistered themselves and merged, was deregistered by the government last week after calling for the protests. Now, the government has declared a planned two-day teachers' strike illegal, possibly laying the groundwork to try and prevent all public sector workers from participating in the protests. The public sector employs most people in Swaziland and preventing their involvement in the mass action would be a victory for the government.

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