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Trade Unions Act Vests Excessive Powers to Registrar-Workers

TOMRIC Agency, 9 August 2000

Dar Es Salaam - Few weeks after endorsing the news Trade Unions Act stakeholders criticize it saying that excessive powers have been vested upon the Registrar of the Trade Unions.

They say that powers might become harmful to trade unionism if wrongly implemented. They say that some isolated sections in the Act contradicted fundamental human trade union rights. They include those pertaining to the right to freedom of association, organizing and the right to concluding voluntary agreements with employers. The government of Tanzania, through an Act of parliament last month technically dissolved the Tanzania Federation of Trade Union (TFTU) and the new Act of 1998 demands that the existed eleven industrial trade unions should register with the Registrar of Trade Unions within three months.

In their meeting held here, the general secretaries of eleven industrial trade unions, says the government need to accept further discussions with trade unions to allow some changes in the Act for smooth implementation of the law and in conformity with International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions. In their copy of demands, the general secretaries say that the Act needed to match with convention Nos. 87 and 98.

"We argue the government to accept discussions and institute required amendments in the Act for smooth implementation of the law and in conformity with ILO conventions," they said, noting, however, that " with the new move, there is an opportunity of establishing a free and independent federation whose leadership would be elected by workers."

The Minister for labor and Youth Development, Paul Kimiti announced last month that after appointment of the registrar of trade unions, formulation of rules and regulations of trade unions and establishment of an independent office of the registrar and his deputy, all trade unions ceased operations for their new registration. Kimiti said an agreement had been reached with former trade unions on how to manage their property before new bodies were registered as well as obtaining a High Court order to entrust the property of trade unions to the public trustee.

Agreement had been also reached on how to handle workers of the TFTU that became defunct with the coming into force of the Act No. 10 of 1998. The agreement means workers are free to establish trade unions.

He said the trade unions with temporary registration will have to prepare constitutions and regulations to follow for holding elections," the minister said. Since 1998 the TFTU has over 10 affiliated trade unions that brought together workers of various sectors like education, health, industrial and commercial, agricultural, hotel and railways workers. Trade unions to be formed should abide by principles of work by ensuring that there is increased efficiency and productivity in order to increase income and benefits for workers, he suggested. "Trade unions should not used to further political ends," he said, adding, " however, that there members could be members of political parties in their individual capacity.