ORGANISING SKILLS WORKSHOP - Tanzania Union of Journalists (TUJ)

ORGANISING SKILLS WORKSHOP --- THE NJUWENI HOTEL, KIBAHA, November 18-19, 2002


Introduction:

The organising skills workshop for trade union executive committee at the national level and branch level members was held at Njuweni Hotel Kibaha from 18-19November 2002


The number of participants attended was 25, However at the second afternoon the attendance dropped to 21. The attendance percentage was 92.


Objective:


The principal aim of the workshop was to equip 25 participants drawn from various media organs with the necessary skills of organising and running trade union branches at workplaces.


Topics covered:

Key papers presented at the workshop included the History of Trade Unions, TUJ Constitution, Labour laws and the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO) core Conventions, TUJ versus other media professional associations, Organising skills and formation of trade union branches at workplaces, Communication Skills, and Principles of Collective Bargaining.


Opening:

The workshop opening ceremony was performed by the TUCTA Secretary General Mr Nestor Ngulla who urged the participants to formulate concrete strategies to strengthen their nascent trade union to face up to the challenges or the emerging labour crisis triggered by the globalisation process. He said unity among members was the foundation of a stronger trade union which could battle with stubborn employers denying their workers the sweat of their labour. Of greater emphasis in Mr Ngulla's speech was the choice of pro-active leaders who could spearhead TUJ to attain its set goals. He urged Tanzanian media men and women to struggle to become real trade unionists if they are to be respected as advocates of the rights of the country's working population.


On his part, TUJ president, Mr Jesse Kwayu, raised concern over the difficult working conditions experienced by the country's media personnel. The problems include delayed payment of the meagre salaries and correspondence fees for freelances journalists, long working hours and a host of other problems that make the working climate hostile. All these problems, Ngulla said, needed the formation of stronger TUJ branches which could fearlessly fight for the rights of workers.



Deliberations:

Discussing the various papers presented at the workshop, the participants underlined the need to establish a spiritual unity crucial to ensuring that TUJ becomes a dependable organ in the fight for their rights. Workshop facilitators laid emphasis on TUJ's role in creating unity among Tanzanian media practitioners which was currently lacking, particularly after the emergence of private media which has seen the sprouting of a myriad of newspapers, radio and television stations on the country's bumpy road to market-based economy.


The participants concurred that the creation of a vibrant trade union was a difficult and thorny path requiring commitment, dedication and sacrifice bearing in mind that many employers are reluctant to allow such organisations to exist at workplaces.


Discussing the TUJ Constitution, the participants suggested that some clauses should be amended to include key global topical issues of gender, security of employment and the killer HIV/AIDS pandemic.


Deliberating on the basic labour laws, the participants raised concern on the evident lack of understanding of the laws among many Tanzanian media workers. They said ignorance of the basic labour laws was a hindrance for any trade union leader to advance the struggle for worker's rights. "Any leader of a trade union who does not understand the country's labour laws is like a magistrate who presides a court without knowing the law," remarked one participant. "A trade union leader must understand the laws if he is to be a respectable advocate of workers' labour rights."

Knowledge of labour laws alone is not enough unless it is accompanied by diplomacy and a spirit of negotiation to convince employers to accept the establishment of trade union branches at workplaces. This process, said the participants, must be an evolutionary process rather than being revolutionary.


Similarly, the participants said that formation of trade union branches at workplaces is not a solution to workers' problems if these branches do not operate on democratic grounds, especially the right to hold regular meetings to discuss various issues affecting the workers.


The workshop noted that holding of meetings at branch level would enable trade union leaders understand workers' problems and seek solutions. "You'll never look for a solution where there is no problem," a participant cautioned, adding that "to understand a problem is to understand its solution."


Resolutions/Recommendations:

1. The workshop participants underscored the need for Tanzania media workers to forge unity among themselves to enable them wage a relentless struggle against oppressive employers.


2. Noting the rapid changes brought by the globalisation process, the participants urged media workers to united and form a vibrant trade union that would encounter the challenges of the new global arrangement.


3. The workshop noted with grave concern the pathetic working conditions of Tanzania media personnel. It, therefore requested the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) to assist the Tanzania Union of Journalists in the mobilisation of recruitment of its members.


4. The workshop identified the glaring lack of knowledge about trade unionism among Tanzania media workers as the major cause of not fighting for their labour rights. It, thus, urged TUCTA to organise more seminars for media personnel to impart them with knowledge on the spirit of trade unionism sot that they can strengthen their organisation.


5. The participants requested TUCTA to advise COTWU, TUGHE and RAAWU who accommodate media workers to surrender them to TUJ which is their right trade union.


6. The workshop urged Tanzania journalists to seriously study the country's basic labour laws because knowledge is a powerful weapon in the search for their rights.


7. On relations between employers and workers, the workshop directed TUJ leaders to persuade the employers to allow the formation of branches at workplaces.


8. The workshop also called for review of the TUJ Constitution to accommodate the current global issues of gender, security of employment and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.


9. The TUJ leadership should visit branches to educate media workers on the importance of joining the union.


Evaluation:

Participants had a view that a two days workshop was inadequate.

The topics were superficially covered. Collective bargaining topic was not covered at all.

Participants were of view to have deep coverage on labours so that they may have courage to face their employers confidently for their rights.


Closing:

The closing ceremony of the workshop was blessed with the presence of TUCTA Deputy Secretary General Mr Hassan Raha as guest of honour.


In his closing speech, Mr Raha urged the participants to spread the knowledge they had acquired at the workshop for the betterment of more people instead of confiscating it. He said awareness of fundamental labour rights, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions and the Trade Union Act 10/1998 was still a major problem with a huge section of Tanzania media personnel.


He advised the participants to read widely the TUCTA constitution and what it stand for. Also of similar emphasis was the need for TUCTA leaders to set strategic plans of the implementation of their set objectives.


Mr Raha also advised TUJ leaders to hold regular meeting with members to discuss thorny labour issues that arise at workplaces. He urged trade unions in Tanzania to include in the leadership people of all ages for future continuity.