Sunday 2017-11-19

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WORKER SHOT, CAR BURNT AS POLY PACK WORKERS STRIKE

By Mbono Mdluli | 2017-11-10

It was a chaotic scene yesterday at Ngwenya when workers resorted to a violent strike, which ended in one worker being allegedly shot.

The worker, who is a female, was allegedly hit on the head by a rubber bullet.

The shot is said to have been fired by one plain clothed police officer.

An ambulance from Swaziland National Fire and Emergency Services (SNFES) is said to have transported the worker to Mbabane Government Hospital for treatment.

According to some eye witnesses at the scene, the worker, who was identified as Nelly from Motshane, was shot with a rubber bullet and she fell down.

She is said to have been treated and discharged at the hospital. However, she is said to have been arrested by the police, together with other workers who ended up being caught by the police during the strike.

The incident happened yesterday at Swaziland Poly Pack (Pty) Ltd, where workers are currently demanding an increase of 20 per cent to their salaries.

Swaziland Poly Pack is a company that produces sacks for various purposes.

They can be used to pack maize, sugar, and other goods.

The workers, who are affiliated to Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA), yesterday preferred to down their tools because the authorities of the company did not want to listen to their demands.

The negotiations on the 20 per cent salary increase are said to have started in July. But up to this day, it is said that the workers were not successful in their negotiations.

Two weeks ago, workers of the company engaged in a strike action, but their strike had to be suspended.

This was because the unions, which was said to be issued by the Industrial Court, advised them to suspend the strike while negotiations were ongoing. What also irked the workers at the company was that the company increased salaries of supervisors by E900, yet a zero per cent increase was allegedly offered by the company.

Workers at the company record E4.90 per hour to around E8 per hour. They work for eight hours per day. Most workers are said to work for six hours per day. As the strike was suspended, negotiations are said to have continued and this time, the employers tabled another offer.

The employers offered zero to eight per cent increase and the offer would only be given to workers who had not been absent from work and had no warning.

This is said to have made the workers to engage in the strike yesterday. Upon learning that the strike was going to take place, the authorities are said to have ordered the workers to do it at a distance of 100 metres from the company entrance.

As the workers were dancing and shouting, it apparently became clear to the employers that the workers were not going to get in and work.

The employers then ordered the workers to get in. This time, they were said to be taking still and motion pictures of the workers who were dancing and singing.

This infuriated the workers such that they started being violent an act which attracted visible presence of the police, one of whom shot the female worker, in an effort to disperse the workers from the premises of the company. By the time this report was compiled, information could not be received from the police regarding the incident. Police are said to have been working on the matter at that time.

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