Teachers in most public schools in the country yesterday joined a countrywide strike, organised by the Tanzania Teachers’ Union (TTU) to press the government to fulfill their demand for pay increase. The strike came a day after TTU president, Gratian Mukoba called on teachers across the country to go on strike until further notice, saying all requirements for it had been fulfilled.
According to the law governing labour relations, before workers go on strike they have to refer their dispute to the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration and that they can only go on strike if the dispute remains unresolved within 30 days of referral and having given a 48-hour notice.
Teachers are demanding 100 per cent salary increase, with science teachers demanding additional teaching allowance of 55 per cent and arts teachers demanding a 50 per cent increase.
A survey by this paper in Arusha yesterday morning showed that most schools had no teachers in their premises.
In some schools, only teachers who teach on voluntary basis were present.
“Students are in their classrooms and we’re ensuring that all is going well,” said a school headmaster, who declined to reveal his name.
A team of regional education inspectors was seen moving up and down across the municipality working on the situation.
Acting Arusha Municipal Education Officer, Enock Mmari, confirmed that there were no enough teachers in schools.
Reports from Mwanza said that students in some schools spent the good part of the day playing as teachers joined the strike.
Teachers in Mango A, Nyakato B, Mahina and some other primary schools reported to work in the morning but did not enter classes.
Some teachers who talked to this paper yesterday said they would go on with the strike until their demands are met.
They said it is a pity that the government does not acknowledge the role of the teachers despite the fact that almost all public leaders have passed through the hands of the teachers.
Mahina Ward Executive Officer, Faustine Masaga yesterday visited some schools in his ward, urging teachers to return to classes.
His call was met with resistance as teachers vowed not to return to classes until the government acts on their demands.
The strike was initially scheduled to take place on July 5, this year, but was shelved to July 23. It was postponed again to meet the requirements of the law.
In Dar es Salaam some pupils marched from Kijichi, Bwawani, Mbagala Kuu and Maendeleo primary schools in the outskirts of the city to meet the Temeke district education officer, academics Juliana Mziray to air their views.
They told the officer that their rights were being violated by the strike, urging the government to resolve the conflict with teachers, who promised that their demands would be addressed.
Some of the students marched from their schools in Tegeta to police stations seeking their rights.
The Guardian has established that many teachers in Dar es Salaam positively responded to their Union’s call to join the strike.
The situation in three Dar Es Salaam districts of Kinondoni, Temeke and Ilala established that very few teachers were seen at some schools, though they were not working.
“I only saw 27 teachers report today (yesterday). They signed in the register and then went away without teaching,” said Prisca Paschal the head teacher of Msisiri primary school in Kinondoni district.
Kambangwa Secondary School headmaster Salim Mpinga told this paper that no teachers reported at his school yesterday.
“I had to report because I as the school administrator have the responsibility to take care of school properties and to direct students who have attended school,” he said.
In Mbeya the strike turned sour as police fired tear gas at marching students wounding several of them.
Reports from Tunduma said the situation worsened after some people broke into the office of the director of the township authority, destroying properties worth 100m/- and prompting the police to fire tear gas to disperse the gathering.
The Mbeya regional police commander Athuman Diwani confirmed the reports saying some unscrupulous young men were the cause of the fracas which had resulted in police using tear gas.
The chaos ensued yesterday morning after primary school pupils in Tunduma found no teachers in schools. They marched to the office of the township authority to air their grievances.
They were told that the director was out and opted to proceed to the police station to lodge their complaints for not being taught.
Reports from Rukwa and Katavi regions said that police arrested five teachers who they accused of mobilising others to support the strike.
The reports of the arrests were given by the TTU secretary for Rukwa and Katavi regions, Twesdemond Zambi who condemned the incident wanting the government to educate its executives on the rights and responsibility at working places.
In Moshi reports said teachers were on a go-slow while in some places teachers, especially those of secondary schools, did not attend school at all.
TTU Kilimanjaro region secretary, Nathanael Mwandete said the strike was positively received in many primary and secondary schools.
The Kilimanjaro regional education officer, Ruth Malisa said the government was monitoring the strike closely in all schools, admitting that many teachers have joined the strike.
Eports from Same and Mwanga districts said many teachers supported the government call and continued teaching.
Some members of Parliament yesterday asked the Speaker to discuss teachers’ strike on an emergency basis, saying it had great impact on the country.
The MP for Chwaka (CCM), Yahya Kassim Issa, requested for Speaker’s guidance under section 47(1) of the Parliamentary Standing Orders asking the parliament to postpone other activities so as to discuss the teachers’strike which had great impacts to the country.
He said he witnessed students returning back home following the strike as teachers were not present in schools.
Mbozi West legislator David Silinde (Chadema) said students in his constituency had also joined the strike and lay on roads at Tunduma areas causing businesses to halt.
He said following the chaos the office of the Tunduma Town Council had been set on fire including some vehicles, asking the Parliament to take the matter as urgent to rescue the situation without interfering with judicial independence.
Responding, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai said that the government filed a case against teachers after the two parties failed to reach into agreement concerning their demands.
Ndugai said that the hearing of the case which will be filed at High Court Labour Division will be heard today (July 31).
“According to reports I have received the government presented its dispute with Teachers to the Commission of Mediation and Arbitration on Friday and failed to reach conclusion and that the matter was taken to court,” he said.
He said the two parties were supposed present their submission yesterday for hearing which was scheduled for today. He said that the
MPs could not discuss the matter since it was pending in court.
The government through the ministry of education and vocation training has called on teachers to end their strike and go back to work.
Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, minister responsible for education said this at a press conference he held at the ministry, saying the matter was in the Labour court division.
The minister said the government submitted a petition to the High Court, Labour Division on July 26 this year to outlaw TTU’s strike and to call for the members of TTU back to the negotiating table.
He said the government was given until July 30 (Monday) to present its submission for hearing while TTU was given July 31 (today-Tuesday ) to do so.