SWAZI teachers who were fired after ignoring an order to end a five-week strike over salary increases yesterday launched a court bid challenging their dismissal.

Lawyers representing the Swaziland National Association of Teachers told the Industrial Court that the strike was legal, and that they want the Swaziland government to reinstate more than 110 fired teachers.

"We are currently in court to challenge these dismissals." However, the matter has been postponed for judgment on Friday (today)," said Muzi Mhlanga, secretary-general of the association.

The strike shut down schools across the impoverished monarchy ruled by King Mswati, adding to its political and economic woes.

Teachers have not had a pay increase since 2010 as the government battles to finance its large public service wage bill.

They are demanding a 4.5% salary increase. Nurses also joined in the strike but have since returned to work.

Education Minister Wilson Ntshangase told local media that the teachers had been fired with immediate effect.

The department has roped in traditional chiefs and headmen to monitor schools and report on teachers who do not report for duty.

"Chiefs are now reporting teachers who do not teach. My advice to teachers is that they return to class," he said. Some of the country's 14,000 teachers who joined the strike have had their salaries cut and received only $4 for their last pay cheque.

Sapa-AFP