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2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Tanzania

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Tanzania, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 16 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 43,700,000
Capital: Dodoma
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

There was good news and bad news in Tanzania. Teachers were caned for asking for a pay rise, while at the docks and on the railways employers tried to ignore their unions. In the catering industry, however, the government urged employers to allow union representation, while a court upheld the unfair dismissal claim of the mineworkers' union (on behalf of 700 members). Overall, the legal environment is not conducive to trade unions, especially in Zanzibar, where all strikes are prohibited.

Trade union rights in law

Despite some constitutional guarantees, many excessive restrictions apply. The government retains control over many trade union activities, and can even suspend a union if it considers that public security or public order are endangered. While the right to collective bargaining is recognised, all collective agreements must be submitted to the Industrial Court for approval and may be refused if they do not conform to the government's economic policy. Furthermore, workers in public services are not allowed to bargain collectively. Strike action is permitted as a measure of last resort, but all strikes are subject to a compulsory 30-day mediation period. The list of services where strikes are prohibited is extensive, and covers almost 50% of all services. Strikes in other sectors may be either temporarily or permanently banned after a complicated investigation process. Picketing is not allowed.

In the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, there are even greater restrictions. To register a union, at least 50 people are required, and the Registrar has considerable powers to restrict registration if s/he does not agree with the union provisions. Furthermore, all strikes are prohibited.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: The global economic downturn made itself felt in this already very poor country as orders in the textile industry slumped. An outbreak of cholera in August lasted months and affected thousands. After two months, it had caused more than 60 deaths, and the toll was expected to rise.

Difficulties in organising legal strikes: Workers tend to stage illegal wildcat strikes and walkouts because of the lengthy and cumbersome requirements for calling a legal strike. In the private sector, employers often deny their workers the right to organise and to engage in collective bargaining.

Court rules in union's favour: The Tanzanian labour court upheld a wrongful dismissal claim from about 700 ex-miners of Tanzania Bulyanhulu Gold Mine on 7 July. The miners were dismissed for taking part in a strike in 2007 following a breakdown of pay talks. The mine suspended output for several weeks before firing all the 1,300 striking workers, accusing them of illegally walking out. Some were later rehired, while the rest were represented in the court case. The workers' union TANZANIA Mines, Energy, Construction and Allied Workers' Union (TAMICO) has accused the employer, Barrick Tanzania Ltd., of poor labour practices.

Caned for seeking back pay: A District Commissioner ordered at least 19 teachers to be caned in early February after they came to his office seeking back pay. Police officers went to their schools to carry out the punishment. Local media said Bukoba District Commissioner Albert Mnali was angry with the teachers for reporting late to school and disobeying his orders. The Tanzania Teachers Union strongly protested at his action. Union officials said the caning happened amid an ongoing row between the union and the government. Teachers' salaries were often delayed, and the teachers were denied transfer allowances when they moved to a new school. Commissioner Mnali was subsequently sacked for breaking public service rules.

Ministry calls for union rights in hotel industry: The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ms Shamsa Mwangunga, met hotel owners in the Northern Zone on 27 February to discuss reports of the denial of basic workers' rights. Parliamentarians had complained that workers were harassed, paid low salaries and had no trade union branches. The Minister directed the employers to allow their employees open trade union branches at their work places. Some hotel owners and leaders of trade unions had already agreed to end their ongoing dispute by ensuring that every hotel opens a trade union branch and also employees that are given contracts. The hotel owners at the meeting promised to resolve the matter within six months.

Management ignores agreement with union: Dockworkers at the Dar es Salaam port ceased unloading containers on 27 July to protest at their employer's failure to respect an agreement on bonus payments with the union. Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (Ticts) had agreed with the Dock Workers' Union to pay workers Sh150,000 bonus every month should workers manage to offload more than 20 containers per hour on average, but in June they were paid Sh75,000 even though they exceeded that average. The union said workers were also paid only half the agreed overtime allowance. Another case of the employer ignoring union rights occurred during a dispute at Tanzania Railways. Workers downed tools on 4 August after management at Dar es Salaam failed to attend a scheduled meeting with the union to discuss the payment of salary arrears.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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