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18 June 2014


Communist Party of Swaziland calls for all-out support for strike at Ubombo Sugar (Illovo)


The CPS extends its full solidarity with the more than 3 000 workers in the Swaziland Agricultural Plantations and Allied Workers Union (SAPWU) in their strike for better wages and conditions at Ubombo Sugar Ltd, which is part of the Illovo sugar conglomerate.


Workers on Swaziland’s sugar plantations are among the most heavily exploited sections of the working class. Workers at Ubombo are paid R1 500 with the possibility to increase this to R 2 000 if they work Sundays – making a full seven-day week.


They are calling for a 14% pay increase, which would bring their basic pay to a paltry R1 710 a month. Ubombo Sugar Ltd demands that their pay increase be no more than 7.5%.


Low pay and bad working conditions typify the entire sugar-producing sector in Swaziland, and there are welcome signs that the Ubombo strike will spread.


It isn’t as if Ubombo/Illovo were so cash-strapped that they would sink if they agreed to SAPWU’s pay proposal.


Last year, Ubombo Sugar made a profit of R272 million, making it the third largest contributor of profits to the Illovo group.


Illovo’s profits for 2013, meanwhile, were over R1.9 billion, way up from R1.1 billion in 2012. Ubombo increased its share of profits for the corporation by 17% for the first half of last year alone, double that of 2012.


Illovo receives some 90% of its profits from its companies outside Africa.


In 2013 it expanded operations at Ubombo in a drive to intensify production and profits.


These profits come from the surplus value generated by Swazi workers, whose pay is many times less than the value of their output.


But the scandal doesn’t end here. Tibiyo Taka Ngwane, the corporate conglomerate supposedly held in trust for the Swazi nation by King Mswati III, owns 40% of shares in Ubombo,.


Mswati’s mafia-like control of enterprises that should be generating dividends for the Swazi people accounts for the major part of his massive illegal income.


The CPS calls on all trade and the pro-democracy movement in Swaziland to stand in solidarity with the workers at Ubombo, and that they mobilise practical support for the strike, which will likely encounter fierce opposition by the Mswati regime.


We also call on workers, unions and other areas of civil society in South Africa and beyond to act in solidarity with their sisters and brothers at Ubombo.




Felix Mabaso

International Organise

Email: felix...@gmail.com

Mobile: +27 74 922 8277


Kenneth Kunene

General Secretary

Email: ken....@gmail.com

Mobile: +27 72 594 3971