Also known as (“The Swaziland Labour Academy”) is a worker-controlled labour research, education and training, as well as capacity-building and support institute that works towards improving the delivery capacity of trade unions for purposes of building their organizational effectiveness and overall organizational efficiency. The core functions of the Labour Academy are:
Research and Needs Assessment of the constituency.
Education and Training; and
Capacity-building and Support.
Brief History of IRALE: IRALE was established by trade union affiliates from the two defunct federations (SFTU & SFL), including the teachers union SNAT, to deliver on the core functions mentioned above. This was out of an observation made in a labour school dubbed the “Swazi Workers’ School”, held in Johannesburg, hosted by the Development Institute for Training, Support and Education for Labour (DITSELA) on the need for research, education and capacity-building for trade unions, in their campaign and negotiation work. Since then, IRALE has moved from strength to strength in delivering on its key areas of work, as mentioned above. Those identified to play the leading role in establishing the institute were called the Steering Committee, and they included the following: 1) Gugu Malindzisa – SFL 2) Barnes Dlamini – SFTU 3) Patrick Mamba – SNAT Their role included coordinating meetings of the various educators and strategic people in education within the trade union movement to find innovative ways in which worker education could be enhanced within structures of the trade union movement in the country. Today, the composition of the Board is such that there are representatives from these two national centres and SNAT. SFTU forwarded two (2) representatives to be part of the Board, and similarly SFL also forwarded two (2) representatives, and the SNAT representative is officially still a member of the Board. The current state of the Board is reflective of the workers’ organisations that are in existence in the Swaziland today. In that light, IRALE is fully supportive of TUCOSWA and all its programmes. Since TUCOSWA is a product of workers’ commitment to unity, IRALE commits to availing all and everything to support the coordination and other functions of TUCOSWA in terms of delivering on what the federation is expected to deliver. Worker and Trade Union Challenges & IRALE Objectives: The current challenges confronting the labour movement vary from organizational, industrial to political/external problems. Trade union organisation in Swaziland, just like political party organisation, is prohibited and outlawed, – obviously at varying degrees – under the 1973 King’s Decree. Examples of trade unionists being arrested, tortured and arbitrarily arrested vary in magnitudes and viciousness. The most outstanding example is the arrest and eventual death of a trade unionist on May Day 2011 in Manzini, who was arrested for wearing a t-shirt of one of the banned entities in the country. It is against this background that IRALE provides its services to the trade union movement and their members in the country to enhance the role the trade union movement plays in the civil society mobilization and policy-formulation fronts, and below are its major objectives. In that light, the key objectives of IRALE are:
To provide support to the trade unions and community organizations through building and leadership development;
To conduct research and provide information to the unions for negotiations and campaigns work;
To develop worker activists and shop-stewards to become quality and advanced cadres of the working class movement and;
To link workers’ issue at the workplace with broader social issues facing our country and society in general.
IRALE Vision: We envisage a just society that is characterized by socio-economic and political participation of the broader civil society in matters of national and international importance, for the reproduction of human development-oriented and political justice for the workers and the poor by means of worker education of their context, their rights and how they unify their efforts for collective gain. Collective consciousness, in an environment of individual skill and expertise, is the overriding aspect of our work. IRALE Values: The work of IRALE is underpinned by the following values, which are:
Worker-biased research, education and training
Collective and participatory adult education;
Learning through Action
Unity in action
Solidarity (local and international)
Communal support, sharing and collectivization of key resources.
Key Programmes of IRALE: Among the most programmes of the Academy as enshrined in the Mid-Term Programme are:
Annual Flagship Activities-including the Annual Swazi Economy and Labour Market Restructuring School, Annual Workers Cultural Festival and the Annual Education Summit. However, organizing these is very much subject to the availability of funds from potential sources.
Programmes and Projects-like the Training the Trainer Project, Education & Capacity-building Project; Shop-steward Development Project; Leadership Development; Women Development; Study Circles for membership development.
Economic Justice Programme, Needs Analysis (Research) survey, Educators’ Network, Gender and the Economy, Young Workers Forum, and the Workers’ history Project.
On-going and spontaneous support is granted to various trade unions, with the core focus being on the provision of continued capacity and support, which should lead to organizational development and excellence.
Past& Successful Projects:
IRALE conducted a Research on the “Restructuring the Swazi Economy”, commissioned by NALEDI (RSA) on behalf of the FNV Netherlands. The outcome was a report submitted in November 2006 to NALEDI.
The development of relevant educational manual to trade unions is on-going. Some manuals have been developed for the Foundation for Socio-Economic Justice (FSEJ) and for some unions with specific areas of interest.
IRALE has created concrete links with the Development Institute for Training, Support and Education for Labour -DITSELA (RSA), Labour Resource Service – LRS (RSA), Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), Labour Research Resource and Information (LARRI) and is also pursuing application to being part of the African Labour Research Network (ALRN).
IRALE has also been involved in a research exercise which came out with a research report called the “Decent Pay is the Key to an Improved Public Service: Alternatives to Proposed Salary Cuts”, which was commissioned by the Public Services International (PSI – Southern African Regional Office) and the public sector unions in Swaziland (NAPSAWU & SWADNU).
The Education and Capacity-building Project that trained almost 40 educators and organizers under the ambit of the Educator Network as well as shop-stewards from the commercial and retail, as well as the textile, apparel and manufacturing sectors in the country.
Through the Shop-steward Development Project, IRALE has gained a lot of experience, and knowledge that is tailor-made to improve the understanding, capacity and broaden the knowledge-base of workers in the textile, apparel and manufacturing sectors in Swaziland, in order to improve their participation in trade unions.
IRALE was part of the Building Trade Union Organisation through Collective Bargaining Project (otherwise known as the AWARD Collective Bargaining Project) coordinated in Africa by the Labour Research Service (LRS) in South Africa, which came out with a Country Report (Swaziland) in 2010 about the state of the collective bargaining environment in the country. IRALE was the leading implementer of the project in the country.
IRALE works with the only trade union federation in Swaziland, the recently de-recognized Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and has been involved in providing capacity to various affiliates at varying moments.
IRALE has also played a key role in providing support to the various activities of TUCOSWA like the pre-Congress Conferences leading to the Inaugural Congress of the federation. Similarly, in the Inaugural Congress of TUCOSWA, IRALE played a key Secretariat role on that historic activity.
IRALE is currently involved in work with ILO, ITUC & FSEJ on issues of socio-economic justice and worker development, that will yield positive results and bear experiences for the workers’ organisations in the country.
IRALE is currently in the process of compiling the history of the Trade Union in Swaziland; a project commissioned by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) and supported by the International Labour organization (ILO). This project seeks to trace the history of labour from as back as 1962. The first draft has already been submitted to the stakeholder (ILO and TUCOSWA). The report will be produced into two versions; a popular version and a comprehensive which should be made available to all workers in the country and beyond.
IRALE is also commissioned to conduct a study on the bargaining situation in Swaziland. The report is aimed at surfacing critical information to support the ongoing Country at risk Campaign by ITUC. Swaziland is amongst the countries considered at risk with regards to respect of worker rights hence the ITUC funded the exercise.
IRALE Delivery Model: In the pursuit of its objectives, IRALE embraces a particular methodology to research, educate, support and build capacity. This then directly feeds to the model of delivery currently used in the Academy. IRALE methodology encourages broad participation, recognition of prior learning and the experiences of learners and collective ownership and control of learning process between facilitator and learner. The model of delivery is informed by the following phases:
Needs assessment phase, where the training needs and gaps within the organization are identified by IRALE in liaison with the constituent partner.
Course Material Development and Design Phase, where the training material suitable for the needs identified is developed, mostly with the partner requesting the training or support;
Course Delivery Phase, which is the actual delivery phase to the participants; and lastly, the
Monitoring and Evaluation Phase, where the effectiveness of the training is monitored and new interventions discussed and agreed upon.
However, it should be noted that this process and model is not always cast in stone, it is subject to change informed by the agreements made between the recipient organization and IRALE, and undoubtedly based on the context of such engagements with many partners. Human Resource Capacity: IRALE boasts of a young, vibrant and energetic human resource that is capable of combining experience with the theory that has been accumulated over the years the organization has been involved in trade union education and research. The human resource at the disposal of IRALE is divided into two major strands, namely:
Intellectual skills: includes the methodological understanding of models of trade union education and research. This is backed by a rich experience of trade union organizing, education, servicing and representation.
Practical and active involvement: this involves the process of learning the conceptual and theoretical bases for the work of delivering effective worker education sessions successfully for the benefit of everyone participating. Here, young trade unionists are brought on board, for the sole purpose of building their intellectual understanding so that they can contribute to a process of intellectual debate on a broad range of issues; from shop-floor to national issues.
Resource and Financial Support:
IRALE mobilizes short-term support from international and local organizations interested in its work. From domestic sources, IRALE only requests for subsistent fares (not commercial, but for office operations purposes) to organizations that request for support.
IRALE has successfully developed a long-term relationship with the trade union movement in the country, and we remain hopeful that this shall translate into a sustainable financial partnership with the labour movement in the country, owing to the Academy’s positive role to labour.
IRALE has confidence that through its very close relationship with the federation, TUCOSWA, can in the future guarantee a very sustainable existence of the organisation (IRALE), and thereby hopefully minimize full reliance on external support.