Union leaders say they’re standing in solidarity with their counterparts in eSwatini after the latest round of violence between striking union members and security forces.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which is based in Brussels, and the regional Public Services International (PSI) group are among those condemning what they say are attacks on union workers that left some 30 people injured.
Among them was Dumisani Nkuna, the president of the National Public Services & Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) in Swaziland. Nkuna was wounded by rubber bullets while fleeing police during a march last week in Manzini, according to local media accounts.
The PSI statement condemns the shooting as well as the use of tear gas on striking Swazi workers.
“The world has been shocked to see pictures of bloodied and bullet-riddled bodies of strikers as if eSwatini had become a war zone,” said PSI, adding that the trade unions complied with authorities for all necessary permits and committed to a peaceful march. That’s disputed by eSwatini officials.
“It is ironic that the same police officers who were firing at their fellow workers also stand to benefit from the struggles for improved salaries being waged by the same comrades that they were shooting at,” the PSI said.
The ITUC joined the call for an investigation in a statement issued Tuesday.
“Respect for workers’ rights, good faith dialogue and a government that responds to people’s needs and concerns – just like any other country, this is what Eswatini needs, not state violence against the people,” the ITUC said.
The latest clashes with labor come as Swaziland opens an investigation into the excessive use of force by police during labor actions in 2018.