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Textiles and employee relations in Swaziland

Xolani Simelane (Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




This article aims to report on the state of employee relations in the Swazi textile industry, based on case study evidence. It focuses on workplace dynamics, employment relations, and the role of the state in shaping and reinforcing these relationships.


The research is based on interviews with employees of Texrey identified through a snowball sampling. Further open‐ended questions for supervisors, management, government representatives and trade union leadership were used. The paper also relies on existing literature on the historical character of employment relations.


The institution of the monarchy has since abandoned the outdated tindvuna system but still retains control in the workplace. It still seeks to perpetrate a thinking that trade unionism is a foreign ideology and that Swazi workers are the king's regiments. There is also an existence of apathy and fatalism from workers arising from their desperate situation and poor prospects.

Research limitations/implications

The textile industry in Swaziland is quite hostile to researchers and therefore access to employees and some crucial information was denied. Second, the study was conducted in one factory, thus it may not be a true reflection of the whole textile industry.


This paper sheds further light on the relationship between political authoritarianism, foreign investment and labour repression in southern Africa.



Simelane, X. (2008), "Textiles and employee relations in Swaziland", Employee Relations, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 452-465.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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