Capital: Mbabane
Population: 1.27m. (2014 est.)

Swaziland joined the ILO in 1975 and ratified ILO Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) and Convention No. 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949) in 1978.

Basic trade union rights are recognised in the law and in the 2006 Constitution. The Industrial Relations Act 2000 (IRA) provides for the registration of unions and confers on the Commissioner of Labour broad discretion to deny registration. The IRA has been amended several times in recent years in response to recommendations of the ILO. The latest amendments enacted in Nov. 2014 followed the governments’ Oct. dissolution of all national federations (including both employers’ and employees’), which provoked an international outcry.Union density in Swaziland is high, among agricultural workers as well as in the public sector, and the TUCOSWA allied sections of the labour movement have been highly active in spearheading a pro-democracy campaign since the mid-1990s.

The former union centres SFTU and SFL merged in 2011 to form a new national centre, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA). In 2012, TUCOSWA was de-registered for three years, and achieved registration again in May 2015 only after significant international pressure. TUCOSWA, which is affiliated to the ITUC, has been active in the campaign for democracy in Swaziland. TUCOSWA's rallies and demonstrations have been repressed and at times violently disrupted. In 2015 the Federation of Swaziland Trade Unions (FESWATU) was established, with roots in Christian principles FESWATU campaigned to keep the country’s privileges under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act by portraying Swaziland in a more positive light and promoting 'industrial peace and harmony'.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Swaziland, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention letter: violent dispersal of trade union rally (2018)


The International Centre for Trade Union Rights

Established in 1987, ICTUR is a non-profit organisation
based in London, promoting international trade
union rights through research and advocacy services.
Email: / Web: