Union leaders arrested after march to demand pay review publication: Mcolisi Ngcamphalala, a member of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and Mbongwa Dlamini, Chairperson of the Manzini regional branch of SNAT were arrested on 4 February, after a march by civil servants to deliver a petition to the Prime Minister's office the previous day. Some 300 civil servants took part in the march, to demand the much delayed publication of the report of the public service pay review, which had been completed in October 2015.

Civil servants held pickets every Wednesday to protest at the secrecy surrounding the pay review. Civil servants in Swaziland are banned from organising protest demonstrations and therefore resorted to more flexible and small-scale ways of highlighting their demands, such as pickets. Finally they decided to go to the Prime Minister's office to deliver the petition.

Officers from Swaziland's serious crimes unit, also known as the Swazi anti-terrorism squad, raided Mcolisi Ngcamphalala and Mbongwa Dlamini's homes on 4 February 2016. The two were charged with contravening the Public Order Act for obstructing the road to the Cabinet offices and were held in custody before being granted bail of E1,000 (USD 60) each pending their trial.

Civil servants from the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU), National Association of Public Servants and Allied Workers (NAPSAW) and Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP) tried again to deliver their petition, by marching to the official opening of parliament on 12 February, but were turned back by police.

Police block public service union representatives from attending court case: The government made an urgent application to the High Court on 24 November to prevent the Public Sector Associations (PSA), composed of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Swaziland National Association of Civil Servants (SNACS), Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA), and Swaziland National Association of Government Accounting Personnel (SNAGAP), from visiting Ministry premises. The PSA had planned to go to the offices of the Ministry of Public Service to demand the release of a salary review report. The Ministry made the urgent application because it considered their planned visit to be a form of protest action.

When representatives of the four organisations – all cited as respondents in the case – arrived at the High Court for the application to be heard, however, they were prevented from entering by the police. The Judge issued an interim order in favour of the government restraining the public sector unions from proceeding with their protest action.

The PSA's action stemmed from frustration over repeated delays. A consultant had been engaged to conduct a salary review for civil servants at the beginning of September following commitments made by the Government Negotiations Team at the Joint Negotiations Forum with the PSA. Although the report was ready, and there had been a commitment to release it by 25 October, the government claimed the unions could not see it because it had not been submitted to Cabinet. The unions felt the government was treating them and the negotiating process with contempt.

Unions in the public sector are technically not allowed to join bargaining councils or conciliation and mediation boards, and therefore have to call themselves "associations". Civil servants are not permitted to engage full-time in trade union activities and are often denied the right to travel abroad for international trade union activities.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.