By Gugu Simelane and Mbono Mdluli | 2017-11-07
Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) workers yesterday defied the Industrial Court and engaged in a devastating strike action that left many parts of the country in total darkness for hours.
The workers went ahead with their proposed strike despite an order interdicting them from embarking on such.
The workers left their various work stations and coincidentally most areas were left in the dark and had nowhere to run since their nearest depots had been left empty as workers engaged in the strike.
SEC employees are unionised under the Swaziland Electricity Supply Maintenance and Allied Workers Union (SESMAWU). Most people took to social media to express disgust at the treatment they got from SEC.
Some areas started experiencing darkness on Sunday night the day when the SEC workers were preparing for yesterday’s wildcat strike,.
Hundreds of company workers assembled at the headquarters in Mbabane demanding their bonuses for the financial years 2015/16 and 2016/2017.
The strike action did not however yield the desired results as the employees returned back to their workstations empty handed without any bonuses, let alone a date on when their bonuses would be paid out by the company.
The court order dated November 5 (Sunday) stated that SEC employees were an essential service hence they do not participate in a strike action.
It further stated that engaging in the intended work stoppage would be in breach of employee terms and conditions of employment.
The SEC employees did not only defy the court order but also failed to adhere to their union’s instruction as it also issued a memo to all SESMAWU members advising the staff to refrain from continuing with the intended strike action.
A memo which was addressed to “all SESMAWU membership” stated that the strike action should be called off to allow the SEC management to address the issue without jeopardising their efforts.
The memo also advised the members that they had been served with a court order stopping the strike action and further stated that the continuation of the intended action will result in contempt of court.
The strike action started at 9am and ended at about 3pm.
Before embarking on the strike action, the employees said they had not come to negotiate but just wanted a straight answer on when they can expect their bonus as promised.
“Site managers came to us and informed us that management had sent them to tell the staff that the company performed well in 2016/2017 and therefore we were going to receive our bonuses by October 31, 2017.
We have waited and nothing has been deposited into our bank accounts as per the message we received,’’ said one employee who wanted to remain anonymous.
The employees unfortunately left their headquarters crushed and disappointed as they had hoped that the strike action would atleast force management to give them a date on when the company intends paying their bonus.
The SEC employees further said they were not happy to learn that some employees had allegedly received the bonuses already. “We have heard that some of the employees have already received their bonuses and we do not understand which criterion was used for that,” said an angry employee.
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