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PUBLIC TRANSPORT WORKERS THREATEN TO CONTINUE WITH PROTEST

By BONGIWE DLAMINI | 2021-10-16

PUBLIC transport workers have threatened to continue with their protest. This statement was made before the National Road Transport Council urged workers to go back to work today. Swaziland Transport Communication and Allied Workers Union (SWATCAWU) Acting General Secretary Sticks Nkambule threatened that transport workers will not return to work until their grievances, as contained in their petition were addressed.

Nkambule said this when addressing the public transport workers at the Manzini Bus Rank yesterday morning. This was before they proceeded to Mbabane Police Station to deliver a formal petition.

The petition is dated October 13, 2021, and was initially addressed to the Prime Minister, Cleopas Sipho Dlamini, but was eventually addressed to the National Commissioner of Police William Dlamini as their meeting with the premier was not confirmed. The petition was delivered at the Mbabane Police Station yesterday.

In the petition, SWATCAWU called for the release of the two incarcerated members of parliament (MPs) Mduduzi Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube. They also stated that the intended prosecution of MP Mduduzi Simelane should be stopped. Also, to curb the ongoing unrests in the country, SWATCAWU has called for an urgent national dialogue, where lasting solutions to the existing challenges will be addressed.

More importantly, the public transport operators highlighted that dilapidated roads in the country was another thorn that had forced them to suspend operations. It should be noted that for the longest time, public transport operators have expressed concern over the pothole-riddled roads within the Manzini City, especially the stretch from Manzini Central traffic lights into the bus rank.

In response to the concerns, the Manzini Municipal Council has been trying to rehabilitate the roads riddled with potholes by filling the potholes with sand, unfortunately which gets washed away during rains. Another grievance brought forward by SWATCAWU members is for the public transport sector to be in full compliance to minimum standards as set out by the Regulation of Industry Wages Order for the transportation industry.

Therefore, the workers said they want to be paid for working overtime, working on public holidays and rest days. With the ever hiking cost of living, the workers stated that they also want a promulgation of a minimum wage of E4 000 in the transport sector. Further, contrary to what is the case currently, the public transport workers said they wanted written particulars of employment for clear job descriptions and what a particular job entails. The public transport workers also mentioned that they were not happy with spot-fines and on-the-spot issuance of summons by the police, so they want these to be suspended.

Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed that the National Commissioner of Police’s office had received the petition. When probed further about the stated grievances of the public transport workers, Vilakati said the forwarded issues were still to be looked into by the relevant authorities before an informed feedback can be extended to the union.

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