21 January 2013

Tanzania: TTU Goes to Court to Fire 'Rouge' Leaders in Strike Last Year

THE Tanzania Teachers' Union (TTU) has filed a new case, challenging the government's decision to remove from their posts Education and Ward Education Officers, Headmaster, Mistresses and Head Teachers, who allegedly encouraged and participated in the teacher's strike last year.

Through services of Marando, Mnyele and Company Advocates, the TTU lodged the case last week at the High Court in Dar es Salaam, District Registry, seeking leave to apply for orders for the court to quash a letter containing directions to Regional Administrative Secretaries, against the said officers.

According to court documents, the letter was issued on August 14, last year, by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, who is the first respondent in the case. The second respondent in the matter is Attorney General.

"The directions contained in (the letter) are illegal and unconstitutional by virtue of Article 20 (1) of the Constitution of United Republic of Tanzania," reads part of the case's statement. The TTU alleges further that the letter was also against other laws, including Employment and Labour Relations Act.

Article 20 (1) of the Constitution states, "Every person has a freedom, to freely and peaceably assemble, associate and cooperate with other persons, and for that purpose, express views publicly and to form and join with associations or organizations formed for purposes of preserving or furthering his beliefs or interests or any other interests."

Thus, the letter in question, the TTU alleges, deprives the said officers their right to associate with their fellow teachers in form of their trade union. On July 30, last year, the TTU managed successfully to stage a nationwide strike in protestation of remuneration of teachers and bad working conditions in which teachers are subjected to.

The said strike was later outlawed by the High Court, Labour Division, a ruling which has been challenged on appeal.Thereafter, the TTU allegedly started receiving complaints from its members holding the said posts, who were being removed on the ground that they participated in the strike, while by virtue of standing orders they were not supposed to, as they represented the employer in their respective stations.

On August 14, last year, the statement of the case explains, the TTU received a copy of the highly contested letter authored by the Ministry's Permanent Secretary directing the removal of the said officers in their posts.

The TTU states that apart from being against the Constitution, such directives also "contravene the Employment and Labour Relations Act, as the category of teachers hereinabove referred to are not policy makers or heads of government units in the hierarch of government administrative structure."

The new turn by the TTU comes few days after it had petitioned the Court of Appeal to quash and set aside the decision of the High Court, Labour Division, which declared unlawful its members' strike staged in July last year, in demand of better salaries.

On August 2, 2012, High Court Judge Sophia Wambura declared the strike that was called on by the appellant on July 30, last year, illegal and ordered the teachers to call it off and resume their duties with immediate effect.

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