Swazi teachers prolong pay strike

Mbabane -

Teachers in the small landlocked kingdom of Swaziland defied a court order Friday and went on open-ended strike over demands for a 4.5 percent salary increase.

Members of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers, which claims 11 000 members, agreed to boycott an Industrial Court ruling and to indefinitely extend a strike which began last week.

“We voted for the strike and it is on. We can't go against the will of the teachers, they are the ones who voted to go on strike. They knew too there was a court order,” said the union's secretary general Muzi Mhlanga.

The government took the union to court on Tuesday after teachers started a strike last week that saw clashes between police and protesters.

Teachers in this impoverished absolute monarchy have not had a pay increase since 2010 as King Mswati III's government battles to finance its massive public wage bill.

Protests have grown since last year in the traditionally peaceful kingdom, which is bordered on three sides by the continent's economic powerhouse South Africa.

Feeding the unrest is Mswati's lavish lifestyle, while 60 percent of his subjects live on less than $2.00 a day, and his refusal to implement democratic reforms. - Sapa-AFP