King Mswati III of Swaziland

Mbabane -

Swazi teachers who were fired after ignoring an order to end a five-week strike over salary increases on Thursday launched a court bid challenging their dismissal.

Lawyers representing the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) told the Industrial Court that the strike was legal, and that they want the government to reinstate over 110

fired teachers.

“We are currently in court to challenge these dismissals. However, the matter has been postponed for judgment on Friday,” said Muzi Mhlanga, secretary general of SNAT.

The strike shut down schools across the impoverished absolute monarchy ruled by King Mswati III, adding to its political and economic woes.

Teachers have not had a pay increase since 2010 as the government battles to finance its massive public wage bill.

They are demanding a 4.5 percent salary increase. Nurses also joined in the strike but have since returned to work.

Education Minister Wilson Ntshangase told local media that the teachers had been fired with immediate effect.

The department has roped in traditional chiefs and headmen to monitor schools and report teachers who do not report for duty.

“Chiefs are now reporting teachers who do not teach. My advice to teachers is that they return to class,” he said.

Some of the country's 14 000 teachers who joined the strike have had their salaries slashed and received only $4 for their last paycheck. - Sapa-AFP