TUCOSWA Congress

Trade union unity is key for the labour movement, said chief of ILO's Bureau for Workers' Activities

Speech by Maria Helena Andre, Director of the ILO's Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) on the occasion of Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) 2nd Quadrennial Congress, Matsapha, Swaziland.

Statement | Matsapha, Swaziland | 01 April 2016
Maria Helena ANDRE,Director of ACTRAV
Dear Wellington Chibebe, ITUC Deputy Secretary-General,

Dear Kwasi Adu Amankwah, ITUC-Africa Secretary-General,
Dear Trade Union Leaders and Members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed an honour and a great pleasure, for me personally and on behalf of ACTRAV to be represented here to celebrate with you a milestone in the history of trade unionism and freedom of association in Swaziland: The 2nd Quadrennial Congress of TUCOSWA under the theme: “Unity for Decent Work”.

I would like to thank the comrades in TUCOSWA for involving and inviting ACTRAV today. We feel deeply privileged to be here with you in Matsapha, Swaziland - with friends and comrades of so many years - including Kwasi Adu Amankwah, Wellington Chibebe , Barnes Dlamini, colleagues and friends from the Solidarity Centre, COSATU, OTM-CS- with whom we have always shared ideas and initiatives to better the destiny of Africa’s peoples.

WE have come to this 2nd Quadrennial Congress of TUCOSWA with respect and Admiration:
  • Respect for the rich history of the labour movement in Swaziland; and
  • Admiration for TUCOSWA achievements under the current leadership.
From the days of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU), Swaziland Federation of Labour: SFL and the establishment of the Labour Coordinating Council: LCC to the day when TUCOSWA was registered in March 2012 and de-registered in April of the same year and until the re-registration of TUCOSWA in 2015, TUCOSWA can look back with pride and bask in the satisfaction of not only having contributed to improving the welfare of Swaziland workers but also African workers.

We pay tribute to the great men and women leaders in the labour movement in TUCOSWA who have suffered arbitrary arrests and other gross human and trade union violation for changing the face of trade unionism in Swaziland and by extension Africa at large. Over the years the trade unions in Swaziland have demonstrated unity in action.

The present-day leadership of TUCOSWA helped ensuring that issues of non- compliance with international labour  standards (ILS) ratified by Swaziland remained high on the agenda of the ILO and in other relevant platforms. The current labour law Bills would not have seen the light of day if not for the national campaigns led by labour leaders, in consultation and collaboration with the employers and government and others through social dialogue.

Of course, the work is not yet completed. Many challenges still lie ahead of us as the labour movement. The past decade has shown us that the world of work is far from being secure, and that the brunt of the economic and financial upheavals experienced during this past decade has largely been borne by working women and men throughout the world. Globalization has proved a complex and multi-faceted process for workers around the world, as are the strategies they must develop to face its challenges.

ACTRAV will continue to work with TUCOSWA towards further strengthening labour relations in Swaziland. We wish to build on previous initiatives that we have jointly worked on, such as those related to labour law reform, elimination of child labour, labour inspection, social dialogue, freedom of association, and workers’ education.

We take pride in the fact that the Decent Work Agenda is now embedded in the fabric of Swaziland national socio-economic development frameworks notably in the Swaziland DWCP. This achievement is without a doubt the result of hard work undertaken by TUCOSWA, in consultation and collaboration with the Government and other social partners, through social dialogue. The fact that the fundamental principles and rights at work are prioritised in the DWCP, including those rights associated with freedom of association and collective bargaining, is an achievement worth celebrating. Much more work needs to be done to close the gap between law and practice in the application and enforcement of ratified ILS.

As we move forward, into a new Congress period, ACTRAV wishes to encourage TUCOSWA to further strengthen and deepen trade union unity and solidarity, bearing in mind that unity between and amongst trade unions at sector and other levels has become a common feature in all countries. Trade union unity is now seen as the new approach for the labour movement to modernize its structures, broaden its membership base and promote solidarity. Moreover, trade union unity now constitutes a formidable response to a myriad of external and internal challenges facing workers’ organization at all levels - sectoral, national, regional and international.

ACTRAV wishes TUCOSWA, its affiliated national unions and its individual members a prosperous future, and we look forward further collaboration through working closely with you to achieve our shared goal of Decent Work for All.

I thank you for your attention.