9 September 2008

Tanzania: St Mary's Staff Open Tuico Branch, Criticise Rwakatare

Workers of St Mary's group of schools at the weekend launched a branch of the Tanzania Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers (TUICO) after a long struggle with their employer.

The workers who claim to have a long list of grievances, meeting in Dar es Salaam on Sunday accusing the schools' director and managers of frustrating their efforts to join the union.

The workers accused the schools'director, Rev Getrude Rwakatare and his managers, of allegedly subjecting them to harsh working conditions with poor pay.

Reached for comment yesterday, Rev Rwakatare refused to respond to the accusations, saying she does not entertain interviews over the phone.

"The director does not like TUICO at St Mary's education institutions or allow workers join the union. That's why the launch meeting for the branch is held outside our work places," said a junior administrator who wished not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

The workers asked their TUICO branch leadership to help tackle outstanding problems including poor pay, long working hours, lack of promotions and arbitrary dismissals.

Speaking during the meeting. union leaders from Ilala district, some workers claimed that they have worked for 5 to 10 years without securing permanent contracts.

The workers who attended the weekend meeting included teachers, drivers, matrons, patrons, cleaners, watchmen and cooks from St Mary's Kenton Secondary School Sinza, Tabata, Mbagara and Mbezi beach. The claimed that they are paid a minimum wage of Sh80,000 per month instead of the stipulated Sh150,000.

A worker further claimed at the meeting that most workers have been threatened with the sack if they joined the union and that money was used by their employer to entice some workers not to endorse the idea of setting up the union branch.

They also criticised their employer for deduction from their salaries contributions for National Security Social Fund (NSSF) and Public Pension Fund (PPF), but the money is not remitted to the two institutions as the law requires.

Deputy TUICO secretary for Ilala district Beatrice Mhagama, called on the workers to remain united when fighting for their rights.

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