21 May 2012

Tanzania: Geita Mine Opens Doors to Trade Union Activities

A NEW chapter has been opened between management of Geita Gold Mine Limited and Tanzania Mining and Construction Workers Union (Tamico) after signing an agreement on Sunday to allow activities of the trade union movement at the company's premises.

Tamico Branch Secretary at GGM, Thomas Sabai paid tribute to the company's management and expressed hope that signing of the deal means that animosity between the parties is now over. "We hope this is a new beginning, of productive relations, between us and the employer," said Mr Sabai who was suspended from duties alongside Branch Chairman Aloyce Shigela, last year for undertaking union activities at the company premises.

According to the agreement, Tamico has been allowed to recruit members, to have its executive committee meet once every month, members meet within the company's premises and joint management and Tamico leaders' training on labour relations.

"This agreement also allows us to exercise collective bargaining with GGM management to improve working conditions as per International Labour Organization (ILO)," Sabai noted. Sabai said the deal also incorporates many proposals made by a joint committee of Anglogold Ashanti which is GGM subsidiary and International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers Union (ICEM) which probed problems at the Geita-based company last year.

"Despite this agreement, there are two contesting clauses which we have referred to Commissioner of Labour including existence of a management-backed workers representative committee and employees who qualify to be Tamico members," Sabai argued.

Like many other mining companies, GGM had outlawed trade union activities in its premises and allow the quasi management sponsored workers' representative committee to assume the role of Tamico branch contrary to labour regulations. Tension was high mid last year when Sabai and Shigela were suspended from work because of their violation of the company's directive to bar trade union activities in its premises.

ICEM and AGA formed a four-man joint probe team to investigate disharmony between management and union members at GGM last June. The probe team delivered their report to ICEM/GGM senior officials in August 2011, with several

recommendations to improve management and trade union relations at Geita.

Among the recommendations was that of reinstating the two union leaders who were suspended last May after allegedly holding meetings within the company's premises contrary to an agreement signed in 2005. The committee took the view that the current mine union recognition agreement, which excluded Tamico, was not in the best interests of the mine.

The committee recommended that Tamico and Geita management urgently work together to craft a new access agreement and code of conduct that recognises the basic labour rights enshrined in new Tanzanian labour legislation," the probe team said in its final report. Tamico which is an affiliate of ICEM and GGM which is a subsidiary of AGA, are obliged to implement the ICEM/AGA deal which is based on the two sides Global Framework Agreement signed in 2009.

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