Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Tanzania

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Tanzania, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
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

Widespread breaches of freedom of association rights in the gold mines were revealed. The legal environment is not conducive to trade unions, especially in Zanzibar where all strikes are prohibited.


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.


Background: Politically the country remained stable, but economically it continued to struggle. President Kikwete won a second term in the October elections. An opinion poll conducted before the general election listed the most serious problems facing Tanzanians as corruption, HIV/AIDS, poverty, high food prices, bad roads and unemployment. In July, Tanzania became a founding member of the new East African Common Market.

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. President Kikwete declared the strike in May by the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) illegal. The strike was called after a breakdown in negotiations over, amongst other things, an increase in the minimum wage. The President had threatened that all civil servants taking part in the strike would be sacked, however no dismissals were reported.

Breaches of freedom of association rife in gold mines: In March, a workshop run by the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) revealed widespread breaches of freedom of association rights in the gold mines sector. Representatives of the Tanzania Association of Mining and Construction Workers' Union (TAMICO) reported that at Geita Gold, owned by Anglo Gold, management illegally screened all TAMICO membership forms and has refused union recognition to those workers that it does not want in the union. Geita management in the Mwanza Region of Tanzania only recognises 400 workers as members of TAMICO, despite the fact that the union has recruited 900. The Geita human resources director, Philemon Tano has a history of openly discriminating against union membership. At African Barrick Gold Plc., 75% owned by Barrick Gold of Canada, management has continued to issue dismissals as a means to discourage membership in the union. It was reported at the workshop that TAMICO members are sacked almost on a daily basis.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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