Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Mine Employees Challenge Dismissal

OVER 1,500 former employees of the Bulyanhulu Gold Mines Tanzania Limited have again lodged an appeal before the Court of Appeal to oppose a decision by the High Court's Labour Division, which rejected their application seeking to challenge the termination of their employment.

The workers were dismissed from their respective employment between October 18 and 31, 2007 on claims of participating in a strike, which the company described as unlawful.

In the appeal, the ex-workers are asking the Appeals Court to quash and set aside the ruling and orders given by High Court Judge Sophia Wambura on October 29, 2012 and make an order that the application in question should be heard on merits.

Judge Wambura had rejected the application by the workers after upholding some grounds of objection raised by Bulyanhulu that the Labour Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter and that the workers had cited a wrong provision to support their case.

The workers had requested in their application for, among others, enlargement of time to file a complaint to oppose their former employer's move to dismiss them from their employment and for an order to join any other workers who were affected by such termination.

In the complaint, the workers allege that in carrying out the 'wrongful termination', Bulyanhulu failed to follow procedures including not giving them a fair hearing as required by law and the company dismissed them allegedly for misconduct on account of participating in an unlawful strike.

According to records of appeal, the workers claim that the High Court Judge erred in law in holding the preliminary points of objections, hereby occasioning a miscarriage of justice to them. "In the interest of justice, the judge ought to have acted in terms of the Labour Institutions Act and transfer the application to the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA) instead of striking it out," reads one of memorandum of appeal lodged by the workers.

It is alleged that after the dismissal of their services, Bulyanhulu former employees took the dispute to the CMA, but the mediation failed to resolve the matter. On November 29, 2007, the CMA referred the dispute to the Labour Court. But on March 18, 2008, the High Court 'struck it out.'

Upon such decision, the ex-workers went to the Court of Appeal for the first time. Judges on appeal allowed the appeal after deciding that the proceedings and orders of the High Court were null. The parties went back to the CMA, which later conducted the arbitration on the dispute.

But on September 16, 2011, the proceedings were quashed by the High Court because the arbitrator acted without jurisdiction. It was at that point when the workers decided to go back to the High Court to file the application in question.

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