TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Eligibility reviews: Press statement in support of Swaziland’s eligibility status for AGOA

Monday, 04 September 2017 Published: | Elijah Chiwota

Source: Industriall-Union Global Union

The Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland (ATUSWA) representing 9 000 workers in the textile and apparel industry, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) representing 40 000 workers and 16 affiliated unions, and the IndustriALL Global Union representing 50 million workers in 140 countries met in Manzini, Swaziland on the 29th of August 2017 to discuss the status of the United States Trade Act – the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – eligibility for Swaziland.

With ATUSWA and TUCOSWA having been registered, and some sections of the Industrial Relations Act, the Suppression of Terrorism Act, and the Public Order Act amended, there is still a lot to be done to improve rights issues.

Some progress has been made towards addressing the concerns on workers’ rights including freedoms of assembly, expression, and association, that led to its suspension in January 2015.

We call upon the Government of Swaziland to adhere to international labour standards, respect human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Social dialogue should include engagement and active participation involving all social partners and key stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of AGOA utilization strategies in permanent and structured national and regional multi-stakeholder platforms.

We also call upon AGOA beneficiaries to be small scale indigenous Swazi companies rather than multi-national companies.

The decision to call for readmission has not been taken lightly, but after extensive consultations and assessment by TUCOSWA and participation in the ILO process to review whether Swaziland had met the standards for internationally recognised workers’ rights including the rights to organise. Concern was also raised over the use of security forces stifling of peaceful demonstrations and arbitrary arrests.

As trade unions, we support Swaziland’s readmission to AGOA eligibility status because this will not only save jobs but create thousands more in the textile and apparel industry, and across the value chain. In our fight for decent work, these jobs are an important lifeline for young women who constitute over 90% of the workers in this industry.

By calling for the reinstatement, we are helping the Government of Swaziland to protect and create jobs and it is imperative that the government adopt investor friendly and sustainable industrial policies which contribute to job creation. The manufacturing sector is strategically placed to play a role in job creation and government policies must encourage foreign direct investment.

The Swazi position for readmission was emphasized in a trade union meeting in the AGOA forum in Lome, Togo from the 08th to the 10th of August 2017, that discussed AGOA issues.

Amandla!

 

arrow right Also see AGOA Review documents and submissions at this link.  

Related News

USTR initiates annual AGOA eligibility review

USTR initiates annual AGOA eligibility review

Summary: This notice announces the initiation of the annual review of the eligibility of the sub-Saharan African countries to receive the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AGOA Implementation Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (Subcommittee) is developing recommendations for the President on AGOA country eligibility for calendar...

06 July, 2018
President Trump updates trade preference program eligibility for Rwanda

President Trump updates trade preference program eligibility for Rwanda

The President determined today the eligibility of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda for trade preference benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In response to a petition filed by the U.S. used clothing industry in March 2017, the Administration initiated an out-of-cycle review of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda’s AGOA eligibility regarding their decisions...

29 March, 2018
Trump extends targeted Zimbabwe sanctions

Trump extends targeted Zimbabwe sanctions

The United States has extended restrictive measures imposed on senior ruling Zanu PF officials and companies, which were set to expire this month. The extension was made in a notice signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, March 2, 2018, which stressed that the situation in Zimbabwe has not yet transformed following the removal of Robert Mugabe from power. “In...

02 March, 2018
Swaziland: Is 2018 the year for its textile workers?

Swaziland: Is 2018 the year for its textile workers?

Can the year 2018 be a turning point for textile workers’ prolonged poverty? The workers in the textile industry said as they got into the new year and edged closer to this year’s negotiations which are scheduled to start next Wednesday, they would be demanding that government should adhere to TUCOSWA’s call for a basic minimum wage, which would see them as part of...

25 January, 2018
Swaziland:

Swaziland: "We should learn from AGOA loss"

Two years ago, I wrote on this very column how disappointing government was in the handling of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) issue.  I remember vividly describing it as a catastrophe so dreadful to be likened to Tsunami proportions. Last week, United States (US) President Donald Trump gave a green light to the restoration of the country’s eligibility...

31 December, 2017
US ambassador hails Gambia’s democratic progress

US ambassador hails Gambia’s democratic progress

The US ambassador to the Gambia, Patricia Alsup, has commended the Gambia for regaining its membership in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and for being selected for a smaller grant programme by the board of the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Ms Alsup said these milestone achievements are significant achievements that recognise just...

28 December, 2017