lundi, 24 septembre 2018

CPS calls for all-out support for NAPSAWU battle to win justice for health workers

The Communist Party of Swaziland expresses its full solidarity with the National Public Servants and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) in its landmark court victory and the battle for its full implementation, commencing this Friday 12 December, to upgrade the pay of hospital orderlies.

The case involves money squirreled away by the Mswati regime for its own use instead of being used as was stipulated to meet the pay requirements of about 1 000 hospital orderlies – some of the lowest paid public sector workers – for whom NAPSAWU had won a pay scale upgrade from A2 to A4.

This union had scored an important victory in improving the pay of hospital orderlies, from a paltry E2 500 to nearly E 6 000, a more civilised living wage (though only just). In addition, the workers were to receive a larger housing allowance of E601, up from E325 a month, plus an occupational health allowance because of exposure to infectious diseases at work.

The package also came with a deal that future recruitment of all non-academic and non-specialist jobs in the health service would be open to existing staff – a welcome concession that would see more varied positions, such as ambulance driving, being occupied by women.

The pay package was supposed to have been implemented from January this year. But the government reneged on the deal and has refused the pay scale upgrade. It now owes the workers millions in unpaid wages.

The wider context is a familiar and simple one. The toxically parasitic Mswati regime is continually squeezing cash from the state budget to sustain itself.

This is one of the main reasons why crucially important parts of the public sector – education, health, basic services – have been pared down until they are barely able to function. Charity and overseas aid is used to fill some of the gaps, but this is ineffectual, lopsided and not subject to any policy coherence.

In the area of health, this is also a main reason why Swaziland has the world’s worst rates of HIV and TB. Treatment is piecemeal, which is why many Swazis regularly flee to health clinics in South Africa to get ARVs and other drugs. Thousands of Swazis die every year needlessly, and solely because the Mswati regime refuses essential public spending. This is a crime of genocide pure and simple.

The regime has lost no time in attacking the NAPSAWU and trying to dislodge its President, Quinton Dlamini, including by threats to his family. Mswati is furious that the union is using his courts to try to reinstate the workers’ pay rise. His stance is part of his unrelenting efforts to crush or emasculate the trade union movement in Swaziland. We therefore call for widespread solidarity with the NAPSAWU, and that unions and union federations everywhere closely monitor the situation. The regime is bound to come down heavily on the union and on the pickets planned to protest for better pay and conditions for health workers.

Long live NAPSAWU !

Justice for public sector health workers !

Long live working class solidarity !

Break the chains of oppression in Swaziland !

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