Trade union rights in law
Despite some constitutional guarantees, many excessive restrictions apply. The government retains control over many trade union activities, and can even suspend a union if it considers that public security or public order are endangered. While the right to collective bargaining
The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.
See collective bargaining agreement
is recognised, all collective agreements must be submitted to the Industrial Court for approval and may be refused if they do not conform to the government’s economic policy. Furthermore, workers in public services are not allowed to bargain collectively. Strike
The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action is permitted as a measure of last resort, but all strikes are subject to a compulsory 30-day mediation
A process halfway between conciliation and arbitration, in mediation a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement to an industrial dispute by suggesting possible, non-binding solutions.
See arbitration, conciliation
period. The list of services where strikes are prohibited is extensive, and covers almost 50% of all services. Strikes in other sectors may be either temporarily or permanently banned after a complicated investigation process. Picketing
Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer.
is not allowed.
In the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar, there are even greater restrictions. To register a union, at least 50 people are required, and the Registrar has considerable powers to restrict registration if s/he does not agree with the union provisions. Furthermore, all strikes are prohibited.
Freedom of association / Right to organize
Freedom of association :
- >The right to freedom of association is enshrined in the Constitution.
- >The right to freedom of association is recognized by law but strictly regulated.
The Zanzibar government enforces legislation specific to the Zanzibar and Pemba islands. Legislation applies solely to the private sector and there are far greater restrictions on trade union rights than in the rest of the country.
- >The law prohibits anti-union discrimination, but does not provide adequate means of protection against it.
Although workers on the mainland are protected against anti-union discrimination, the legal protection is not extended to workers in Zanzibar.
Legal barriers to the establishment of organizations:
- >Power to refuse official registration on arbitrary, unjustified or ambiguous grounds
- In Zanzibar, the Registrar has considerable powers to restrict registration, for example, if s/he does not agree with the union's provisions.
- >Excessive representativity or minimum number of members required for the establishment of a union
- Trade unions in the private sector must have at least 20 members to register, while public sector unions need 30 members. In Zanzibar there is a minimum membership requirement of 50 people before registration can go ahead.
- >Sanctions imposed for organising or joining an organisation not officially recognised
- Unions must register within six months of being established.
Those that fail to do so are subject to (unspecified) sanctions.
Restrictions on workers' right to form and join organizations of their own choosing:
- >Restrictions on trade unions' right to establish branches, federation and confederation or to affiliate with national and international organisations
- Five organisations are needed to form a federation. Trade union affiliation to other organisations can be annulled if it was obtained without government approval or if the union is considered to be an organisation whose remit is broader than just employer-worker relations.
Restrictions on trade unions' right to organize their administration:
- >Restrictions on the right to elect representatives and self-administer in full freedom
- The government prescribes the terms of office of trade unionists. Failure to comply with government requirements is subject to fines and/or imprisonment. In any given trade union, only one union leader may be employed full-time to carry out trade union functions; all others must work full-time in the enterprise or industrial sector in which they have been elected. In Zanzibar, trade union officers must have a sufficiently high literacy level.
- >Administrative authorities' power to unilaterally dissolve, suspend or de-register trade union organisations
- The Registrar can suspend a union if public security or public
order are endangered. In Zanzibar, the High Court can interfere in trade union affairs by appointing the Registrar to act as a trade union liquidator.
Right to collective bargaining
Right to collective bargaining:
- >The right to collective bargaining is recognised by law but strictly regulated.
Restrictions on the principle of free and voluntary bargaining:
- >Authorities' approval of freely concluded collective agreements
- Collective agreements must be submitted to the Industrial
Court for approval and may be refused registration if they do not conform to the government's economic policy.
- >Compulsory conciliation and / or binding arbitration procedure in the event of disputes during collective bargaining, other than in essential services
- A system of compulsory arbitration sets the conditions and terms of employment of public service employees.
Limitations or ban on collective bargaining in certain sectors:
- >Other civil servants and public employees
- According to the 2002 Public Service (Negotiating Machinery)
Bill, workers in public services do not have the right to collective bargaining. In addition, the government sets wages for employees of the government and state-owned organisations.
Right to strike
Right to strike:
- >The right to strike is enshrined in the Constitution.
- >The right to strike is recognised by law but strictly regulated.
In 2007 the amended Employment and Labour Relations Act (Code of Good Practice Rules) was adopted, establishing fuller guidelines for the implementation of the main ELRA. In Zanzibar, the law prohibits all workers from going on strike.
Legal barriers to lawful strike actions:
- >Compulsory recourse to arbitration, or to long and complex conciliation and mediation procedures prior to strike actions
- There is a compulsory 30-day mediation period before lawful strike action may be taken.
Ban or limitations on certain types of strike actions:
- >Restrictions with respect to the objective of a strike (e.g. industrial disputes, economic and social issues, political, sympathy and solidarity reasons)
- Strike action is permissible as a measure of last resort in the case of conflicts of interest, whilst rights-based disputes are referred to the labour court. Secondary strike action is allowed provided that the primary action is lawful, there is a relationship between the primary and secondary employer and the secondary action is proportional; a 14-day notice period is required for secondary action.
- >Restrictions with respect to type of strike action (e.g. pickets, wild-cat, working to rule, sit-down, go-slow)
- Picketing is prohibited.
Provisions undermining the recourse to strike actions or their effectiveness:
- >Absence of specific protection for workers involved in lawful strike actions (e.g. against dismissal)
- The law does not protect those taking part in legal strikes from retribution.
Limitations or ban on strikes in certain sectors:
- >Undue restrictions for "public servants"
- The 2002 Public Service (Negotiating Machinery) Bill prevents
strikes by "staff grade officers", which include heads of public learning institutions.
- >Discretionary determination or excessively long list of "essential services" in which the right to strike is prohibited or severely restricted
- Strikes are forbidden if the government considers they
endanger the life and health of the population, and the law has now broadened the category to cover almost 50% of all services, including firefighting, civil aviation, telecommunications, health services and associated laboratory services and electricity. Strikes in other sectors may be either temporarily or permanently banned after a complicated investigation process.