Montigny Investment Limited, a company that is owned by the Minister of Finance in the Kingdom of Eswatini stand opposed to the fundamental principles of human rights by tirelessly working on denying its employees the right to Freedom of Association. Montigny was financed and is co-owned by the Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) and the Swaziland National Provident Fund (SNPF) which are retirement fund schemes for workers in Eswatini. It is troubling that a company that has been established using workers hard earned resources refuse to acknowledge the rights of workers.
Montigny Investment is known for employing workers through the use of a labour broker in an endeavor to escape the employer’s obligations in an employer/ employee relationship. By so doing the Company “escape” even the responsibility of transporting workers who knock off and resume work around 7pm and also dismisses workers anyhow.
The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA), a trade union organization that has been chosen by the workers as their union has been informed through a letter that is signed by the affected employees that Montigny has started a process of victimizing all those that are suspected to be working with ATUSWA in organizing workers. The company is running helter-skelter after having realized that the ATUSWA brand has become so popular with the employees of the company in the past two weeks such that employees have started organizing one another to join ATUSWA.
Realizing that the scare tactics which include assault and taking the union to court is not working, the company decided to shift their focus to the workers. In the last week one by one of those that are suspected to be at the forefront of the recruitment exercise were interrogated and harassed by Montigny and seiwu officials who were demanding the ATUSWA stop order forms and they were further threatened with dismissal if they persist in recruiting workers in favor of ATUSWA. It has also come to our attention that one of the worker’s leaders was recently assaulted and the information we have is that a case of assault has already been opened at the Bhunya Police Station.
The Union has since instructed its Lawyers to act in the matter to protect the workers’ Freedom of Association, a right we believe is essential for the effective use of other freedoms, and full participation in the policy-making and implementation of policies affecting the workers on daily basis.
It is tragic that just when His Majesty the King of Eswatini has addressed the world at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, a speech that was welcomed by all stakeholders, a company which is managed by the leader of Business Eswatini goes on to act in this manner. Business Eswatini and all employers should be ashamed to be led by individuals who refuse to accept the Fundamental Rights.
We call on government, business and all independent worker organization in Eswatini and elsewhere as led by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) to condemn the actions of Montigny and to further work on ensuring that workers’ rights are respected.
Lastly, we wish to applaud the affected workers for raising their voices against the well-oiled machinery by Montigny which include coopted individuals in the media and the police. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady of the United States of America might have these gallant fighters in her mind when she said; “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.
Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerned citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” We also applauds our brothers and sisters who continue to associate with our union against the advice from their bosses, both at company and union level, who want to see them languishing in poverty while they (bosses) live in opulence at the expense of the workers. These workers are making it a point that they can no longer suffer in silence and ATUSWA shall stand with them in their struggle for better working and living conditions.