The History of Trade Unions in Tanzania
OVERVIEW OF THE ORIGIN OF TRADE UNIONS IN TANZANIA
History tells us that trade unions originated from the efforts and struggles of exploited, dehumanized, ill-treated workers, to rid themselves of their poor working and living conditions. The struggles were against property owners more specifically after the discovery and use of modern machinery and other working equipment in the period referred to as The Industrial Revolution. This was the period between 1750/1760 and 1820 and these discoveries occurred in Europe and North America.
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A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE ORIGIN AND SPREAD OF TRADE UNIONS IN TANZANIA:
In Tanzania, the working class came into existence when German and British colonial regimes opened up and developed economic activities in the colonies in the process of looking for raw materials for their industries. (The German colonial control of Tanganyika ended in 1918 when German was defeated at the end of the first World War, while the British colonial control started in 1918 and ended in December 1961 when Tanganyika achieved her independence).
3.2 THE FIRST ATTEMPTS
Attempts to form unions were first taken in 1927 in Moshi. Motor drivers and mechanics formed a union, but actual trade unions were officially started in 1940s and registered under the Employment Ordinance Number 32 of 1932. This could be seen as the second Labour Law enacted in Tanganyika. It had aimed at establishing procedures for creating trade unions under colonial mentorship or conditions. The first Labour Law was enacted in 1923 and was named The Master and Native Servant Ordinance (Sheria ya Bwana na Mtwana) . It aimed at laying down Labour Regulations.
The nice language above came from the Arusha Declaration, discussed and adopted by TANU and ASP in Arusha, in 1967. It was a declaration of the two political parties’ serious intent to build a new state in Tanzania – a Socialist State.
In a Socialist State, workers and peasants were the rulers of the land; the owners of the country’s wealth. There was no- or there should never be corruption or exploitation etc. etc. So all the Jumuiya’s had the duty to propagate this philosophy and make sure it succeeds.
JUWATA was no exception as after all it was born after the declaration had been adopted.
THE FORMATION OF 12 UNIONS BY 1950
By 1950, twelve unions/associations had been registered. These were: 1)Transport Workers’ Union, 2) Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union, 3) Dar es salaam Dock Workers Union, 4) Dar es Salaam Hotel Workers’ Union, 5) Tanga Dock Workers’ Union, 6) Customs Workers’
Union, 7) Railway Workers’ Union, 8)Public Employee’ Union, 9) Local Government Workers’ Union,10) Mine Workers’ Union, 11)Postal and Communication Workers’ Union,12) Teachers’ Union
The creation of the First Federation of Trade Unions in Tanganyika:
The Industrial Unions decided to unite and form the first Federation of Trade Unions – Tanganyika Federation of Labour –TFL in 1955. In its first meeting , Notable Names in TFL ranks included Cdes. Rashid Mfaume Kawawa; Michael Kamaliza; Alfred Tandau; Kasanga Tumbo; Joseph Rwegasira, M. M. Mpangala, and many others. There was very good relationship between TFL and TANU, the Political Party which was then struggling for Tanganyika’s independence, under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Father of the Nation.
IN THE ISLANDS OF ZANZIBAR AND PEMBA: trade unions were also formed and they also decided to form a Federation in 1958- The Zanzibar and Pemba Federation of Labour- ZPFL. As in Tanganyika, the Political Party in the Islands- The Afro-Shiraz Party, had close relations with ZPFL for the same reasons.
THE BIRTH OF NUTA
Tanganyika became independent in December 1961 and TANU having defeated other political parties, formed the first post independence Government under Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere as Prime Minister. The relationship between TANU and TFL bore fruits immediately. Cdes. Rashid Kawawa, Peter Kisumo, and others, who were staunch Trade Union Leaders, were included in the Government.
THE DISSOLUTION OF NUTA AND THE BIRTH OF JUWATA.
A milestone in the Country’s history has so far not been mentioned. This was the birth of Tanzania after Tanganyika and Zanzibar and Pemba Islands united to form one country –The United Republic of TANZANIA. This unification took place on 26 April 1964 under the visionary leadership of Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere and Abeid Aman Karume, then President of Zanzibar and Pemba. The unification followed the overthrow of the Sultan of Zanzibar who had been installed to rule over the Islands by the Colonial Regime.
3.11 THE DISSOLUTION OF OTTU AND THE BIRTH OF TFTU
OTTU, was transitional and was originally put in place to supervise the establishment of Independent Industrial Unions. The life of TFTU was very short. First it was created under the OTTU legislation No.20 of 1991. This means TFTU had no legislation of its own to lean on. So the dissolution of OTTU automatically meant the dissolution of TFTU although it continued to exist for some time after its creation. Moreover, in 1998, the Government enacted a new Trade Union Act No. 10 which came into operation on 1st July 2000. Further, while the OTTU Act
No. 20 permitted OTTU to be the only T.U. Federation in the country, the T.U. Act No. 10 allowed the formation of more than a single Trade Union Federation, which seemed to concretize the concept of Freedom of Association, cleared specified in ILO Conventions. All these lead to the death of TFTU. This led to the absence of a Trade Union Federation in the country for some time. The Industrial Unions had no choice but to work for the creation of a new Federation. First the 11 unions renewed their registration, and then they created a new Federation- the Trades Union Congress of Tanzania-TUCTA in April 2001 under the Trades Union Act No. 10 mentioned earlier. TUCTA became an independent Trade Union Federation similar to the old TFL.