Striking Swaziland sugar workers need your support!
Thousands of members of the Swaziland Agricultural & Plantation Workers' Union (SAPWU) launched broad strike action at the operations of two of Africa's leading multinational sugar producers, Tambankulu Estates and Ubombo Sugar, on June 12 and 13, respectively. Ubombo, is controlled by the South Africa-based Illovo Sugar, Africa's largest sugar producer, with Swaziland's King Mswati III owning 40%. Ilovo in turn is 51% owned by the UK's AB Sugar Group, part of Associated British Foods. Tambankulu Estates is controlled by South-African based Tongaat Hulett, which also has important operations in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The union is demanding wage increases of from 11-14%, depending on the job grade, increased education and tool allowances, an additional paid holiday and improved leave, among other demands. The companies have responded by withdrawing school transport for workers' children and legal moves to limit picketing.
Strikes are often severely repressed in Swaziland, an absolute monarchy where the king rules by decree and political parties are banned. SAPWU is part of the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) formed in 2012 and deregistered the following year. Union members and their allies fighting for democratic rule are routinely harassed and jailed. Some two-thirds of Swazis live in poverty. The UK AB Sugar company website boasts: "Illovo is one of the world's lowest-cost sugar producers…"
Swaziland's sugar workers need your support!