22 November 2012

Tanzania: Transit Truck Drivers Delay Protracted Talks

TRANSIT truck drivers demanding handsome per diems and other travel perks are stalling progress towards resolving protracted negotiations with Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TATOA).

TATOA Secretary Zacharia Hans-Poppe said in Dar es Salaam that the drivers want to force their employers to fix both minimum and maximum per diems and other travel allowances which everyone in the sector should follow. "Drivers are to blame for rejecting our proposals on travel allowance payments.

We said as an association we can only fix the minimum travel allowance payment and leave individual employers to decide on how much they actually want to pay but not below the agreed minimum," Mr Hans-Poppe told 'Daily News' as truck drivers declared an official stalemate with TATOA.

He mentioned that TATOA has fixed the minimum travel payment at 500,000/- per single trip to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) while 350,000/- to all other destinations. Trucks are the lifeblood of Dar es Salaam port which serves six landlocked countries plus upcountry the farthest region being Kigoma at more than 1,300 kilometres.

Transit truck drivers through their association, Tanzania Truck Drivers Association (TTDA) warned their employers against possible industrial action before the end of the year if the stalemate persists.

"If truck owners continue to defy our request, we will have no alternative but to strike," said the association's Chairman, Clement Masanja. Mr Masanja warned a faction of their members fermenting chaos to benefit truck owners saying such elements will be dealt with squarely after their annual general meeting held last week.

"We want to stay focused in defending interests of our members and the general public other than attending to internal squabbles," Masanja told a press conference. Among other things transit truck drivers are demanding travel allowances of between 700 and 1,000 US dollars (approx. 1.1m/- and 1.5m/-) for travel to neighbouring countries of Zambia and DRC.

Hans-Poppe said the demand is unrealistic hence the drivers' association should return to the negotiating table other than issue strike threats. "Their association has no mandate of striking because it is not a trade union," Hans-Poppe argued.

Truck drivers have been pressing for better working environments for several years earlier this year, Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) weighed in on their side by pressing truck owners to enter legal contracts with the group which has been working on casual basis for ages.

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