Unions blockade Swaziland

March 12, 1997

Thousands of trade unionists in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique prevented trucks entering or leaving Swaziland on March 3, in solidarity with the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, which has been on strike since February 3 demanding free political activity and democracy.

Workers on both sides of the South Africa-Swaziland border picketed border posts. Members of unions affiliated with the Congress of South African Trade Unions in the clothing and textile, food, retail and transport sectors refused to handle goods destined for or originating from Swaziland.

One or two trucks, out of a normal day's traffic of 75, succeeded in breaking the line with police assistance, only to be stranded on the other side by picketing Swaziland unionists.

Mario Masuku, president of the outlawed People's United Democratic Movement, said the blockade showed that workers have the power to bring the economy to a halt and that progressive forces in Swaziland enjoyed regional and international solidarity.

On March 2, 4000 workers at an SFTU rally voted to suspend the indefinite strike. The SFTU will now hold general strikes on the first two days of every month until the monarchy agrees to the workers' demands.

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