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Tanzania Violates ILO Convention 87, Says ICFTU-AFRO

TOMRIC Agency, 14 August 2000

Dar Es Salaam - A delegation from African Regional Organizational of the International Conference of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU-AFRO) which is here, has said a recent decision by the government to dissolve the Tanzania Federation of Free Trade Unions (TFTU), is a violation of International Labor Organization (ILO) convention 87.

During the last parliamentary session the government had declared that the 1998 Trade Union Act was in place and that the TFTU was practically dissolved and giving the Trade Unions Registrar more powers to regulate labor movement in the country. All trade unions were declared de-registered and asked to under go for new registration.

Challenging such a decision, a Nairobi-based ICFTU-AFRO General Secretary Andrew Kailembo said the ILO convention number 87 states that authorities have no right to dissolve national labor centres nor can governments prescribe a mandate on the period of being in force of such centres. He said Tanzania, which ratified convention number 87 in January this year, had included Clause in the new law which he said barred local trade unions from affiliating to international unions like ICFTU without the Registrar's approval. His observation comes amid complaints by stakeholders that the new Trade Unions Act gives excessive powers upon the Registrar of the Trade Unions.

Kailembo said the new law also prescribed a mandate for the national centre, the TFTU that he said was against the spirit of having free trade union movements as stipulated in the ILO convention. According to him, since TFTU was a member of ICFTU-AFRO, despite the Trade Union Act number 10 of 1998 which became applicable in Tanzania in July this year, the TFTU as per international law it was still existing. He said the provisions dissolving the TFTU have violated ILO convention.

A leader of a delegation Christian Agyei said also that dissolution of TFTU was violation of international conventions. He said being a regional body, ICFTU-AFRO consider the dissolution as gross violation of trade union rights. He said, "We feel that it is illegal for the government to enact a law that dissolves a free trade union movement."

Earlier in their statement, the TFTU had said powers vested upon the Registrar of Trade Unions could become harmful to trade unionism if wrongly implemented. They said the new Act violated some sections in the Act including contradicting fundamental human trade union rights.

They included those pertaining to the right to freedom of association, organizing and the right to concluding voluntary agreements with employers. Their complaints follows recent decision to vest more powers to the registrar on Trade Unions announced by the government recently.

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.

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 which were last month declared defunct.