“DEVASTATING AFTERMATH OF THE LOSS OF AGOA ON WORKERS”-ATUSWA STATEMENT READS

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“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter ” – Martin Luther King Jr

After all has been said and done we find ourselves confronted with the reality that our people are starving and if nothing is done we will find ourselves having to deal with workers who have been pushed to the abyss of hopelessness. As an organization; actually as a leader of the suffering workers we cannot afford to stand aside while our workers are swimming in misery and all kinds of risks that come with being unemployed. We will add our contribution; no matter how humble that contribution might seem to be.

Through Government’s refusal to adhere to AGOA requirements, thousands of workers have lost their jobs and further thousands of dependents have been pushed further and further to hopelessness. Even those who had no financial commitments excepts to rent and feed themselves and their families when they were dismissed as their company/ies shut down have exhausted the terminal benefits they got and the reality is that things are getting out of hand and reality is setting in; they can no longer provide for themselves and their families.

We are also conscious of the fact that some workers have been employed to other garment factories in Matsapha and elsewhere but the reality of the matter is that no new employment opportunities are available. The employers dismiss other workers to employ the redundant workers. At least those that were redundant were paid terminal benefits no matter how small it was but the rest are dismissed unfairly and they are never paid. As an organization we have learned that dismissals have gone up since the closure of Texray.

This information tells us that some workers are sacrificed in order for the companies to employ former Texray workers as they are believed to be skilled and hard working.The conditions of employment within the garment industry is worsening each day as there are throngs and throngs of skilled workers roaming the streets of Matsapha
“United we bargain divided we beg” Industrial area. Workers are compelled to work long hours in order to meet the ever escalating targets. In some cases workers are coerced to work 14 hours for the alternative is starvation. We are called upon as workers to stand up, double our efforts and fight against these evil masters to protect ourselves against the competition of cheap labour.

In essence the reality we have on the ground is that we have a situation that is
bigger than an individual or a group of individuals but we need a collective
responsibility to deal with this situation. We have and are continuing to speak to our members to contribute in whatever form some relief to our affected brothers and sisters. We appreciate those that are responsive to human suffering and our task is to arouse the desire to help on every member of the society. Some of our members have undertaken to contribute food parcels which shall be collected by the affected workers and some union officials
from the various places of work and be distributed to the most affected workers.

We further call upon all citizens of the world to be with these workers in their time of need. The task team that has been appointed will develop strict accounting methods of dealing with the contributions of which at this point in time we would urge that it be food parcels as opposed to money. In describing what would a bleeding heart
expect in the darkest hour Martin Luther King Jr correctly said “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends ”.
To all of us the call is, let us not be silent; let us ensure that all the suffering workers do not remember our non-action as they are starved to death. What is done is done, workers have lost their source of income and there is non that is available. It cannot be that because the Government did not consider the lives that would be affected if we Swaziland lost AGOA we would look away as well and pretend as if all is well. All is not well. As human beings we have a responsibility to one another.

The Union leadership is pleased to appoint the following capable leaders to lead this noble exercise.
1. Nonophile Mahlalela Deputy Treasure of the union
2. Rosemary Hadebe affected worker leader
3. Senzo Sibandze Union organizer +26876189893

Statements issued by:
Wander Mkhonza
Secretary General