Formers workers of Sappi Usutu in Swaziland petition Parliament to stop company from removing equipment from its closed pulp mill, say trucks have been carting away machinery since March 10 in defiance of former Parliament ruling

LOS ANGELES , March 21, 2012 () –

Former workers of Sappi Usutu Pulp Co. in Usutu, Swaziland, claim that the company has been removing equipment from the closed mill since March 10, in defiance of a Parliamentary resolution, reported the Times of Swaziland on March 21.

The workers have again petitioned Parliament to issue an order forbidding the company from any further dismantling of the mill.

The petition states that Parliament passed a resolution prohibiting the company from carting away any machinery until it resolved the dispute with its former workers, the Times of Swaziland reported.

The petition, which was given to Archie Motsa, assistant principle clerk to Parliament, on March 20, further states that the equipment was removed from the country in trucks.

The workers claim that they are owed termination benefits according to the collective agreement that the union and the company signed, said Henry Mabuza, first VP of the Swaziland Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union, reported the Times of Swaziland.

The union had argued for the benefits in a 2010 court case and appealed the decision to the High Court, which dismissed it. However, another appeal is pending, Mabuza said.

Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Jabulile Mashwama said that a response to the matter has been provided to Parliament.

The workers’ petition also asks that Parliament chastise Mashwama for allegedly not ensuring that the government’s ruling was observed, the Times of Swaziland reported.

Sappi Ltd. owned the 190,000 tonnes-per-year unbleached kraft pulp mill, which it closed in January 2010 due to weak market conditions and the destruction of regional forestlands by fires, according to a May 11, 2011 Times of Swaziland article in that was carried by on May 12, 2011.

Following the closure, the workers began protests seeking back pay and to prevent equipment from being removed, according to the same article.

The primary source of this article is the Times of Swaziland, Mbabane, Swaziland, on March 21, 2012.


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