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MANZINI – SWATCAWU has tabled a pay rise demand of up to 93.4 per cent for public transport workers and an increase of allowances by 20 per cent.

This was confirmed by the Swaziland Transport, Communication and Allied Workers Union (SWATCAWU) Secretary General, Sticks Dlamini, who said all they wanted was to see their members in the public transport industry getting paid at least E4 000 per month. In their position paper, the union said Grade 1, which covers for conductors and general workers, should get E930.24 per week, which when multiplied by their conversion rate of 4.3, it means that they should be paid E4 000 per month. This is about 93.4 per cent increment from the E481.10 they are being paid per week (R2 068.73 per month) – according to the 2022/23 gazette.

The union said the subsequent percentage grade rates interval, being Grade II to Grade VII should be maintained, built from this proposed new Grade I rate. In the current gazette the salaries for public transport workers between Grade II and Grade VII ranges from E685.50 per week (E2 947.65 per month) and E760.10 per week (E3 268.43 per month). It is worth noting that public transport workers, in particular those transporting people, started demanding E4 000 as a minimum wage during their strike action which was held in October 2021, and lasted for over a week. The demand was presented to a government team that was selected to engage the public transport workers.

Regarding allowances, the union demands that all allowances should be increased by 20 per cent. It said this demand was informed by the cost of living dating three years back. Currently, according to the 2022/23 gazette, a driver other than a taxi-driver, who is required to drive on a night shift should be paid an allowance at one and half times his normal wage rate. Also the gazette says a taxi driver should be paid, in addition to his normal wage, a commission of not less than two per cent, on his money intake during any month worked. “A driver who has been in the continuous employment of the same employer for more than six months and who is required to obtain an annual public driver’s permit, shall be reimbursed by his employer the cost in relation to or as a condition of that permit and travel document renewals for cross border operation workers,” reads part of the 2022/23 gazette.

It also says an employee who is on duty outside his normal station or principal place of employment should be paid subsistence allowance in respect of each continuous period of 12 hours up to a maximum of six days – E59.74 where the employer provides suitable accommodation and food. Again, it says E119.60 should be paid where the employer does not provide food, but offers suitable accommodation or where accommodation is available on the vehicle being driven by or which the employee is an assistant. “E239.15 should be paid where the employer provides neither food nor accommodation,” reads part of the current gazette.

On another note, the union said the workers should work 48 hours per week, which should be spread over five days. It said the proposal was that the workers  work five days per week - Monday to Friday and that Saturdays should be on rated at time and half the normal rate and Sundays shall be rated at double the normal rate. “Annual leave shall continue as is on the 2017 regulation (30 days per annum), however it shall be cumulative. No employer shall have any authority to effect annual leave forfeiture,” reads part of the union’s demands.
Once again, the union said E2 000 should be paid in lieu of a risk allowance per month payable to workers exposed in handling dangerous (petroleum) goods, acids and cement. It also demanded that a worker required to work at night should be paid a night shift allowance at one and a half of the normal rates per hour. It argued that night work was hazardous and poses more risks than day work for all workers, not just the driver. It is worth noting that the wages council for the road and transportation sector is yet to sit to discuss the workers’ demands and the employers, who form part of the tripartite, are yet to table their counter offer.