Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) President Gratian Mukoba has told teachers not to be cowed by threats from security organs and measures taken by the government including signing of forms, stressing their strike is legal.
Mukoba said at a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday that it was the right of the union to hold a legal strike after following all legal procedures and that the state which has filed a case in court had not right to protest that the move was illegal.
“I think the government is trying to seek compassion of the High Court as it was in the 2008 strike,” said the union president.
He claimed that the government has been forced to use defense and security committees in the regions and districts to threaten teachers that they will be fired from work for joining the strike.
He claimed further that the government was threatening teachers that it will not provide them salaries for their participation in the strike.
“The law stipulates vividly that a person who participates in a legal strike is not supposed to be punished,” he noted, directing that if a Union member is charged for his participation in the strike the Union will follow legal procedures to defend them.
Mukoba urged the government to free all teachers and leaders of the Union who have been arrested by police and to unconditionally withdraw charges filed against its members.
“We are very concerned with the arrest of some teachers and leaders of our union in the districts of Tarime, Rungwe, Kyela, Babati and in regions of the Coast, Morogoro, and Ruvuma,” he noted.
Mukoba accused the Dar es Salaam regional commissioner, Said Meck Sadiki of threatening members and leaders of the union by ordering their arrest.
He also refuted as false the statement by the RC that the chairman of TTU has misled the teachers into striking while he was present in his school where he signed and left the compound.
“I call upon all teachers to stay home so as not to be associated with mobilising pupils and students to demonstrate. It is easy for the police or an employer to link teachers with the demonstration of students. The Union saw this before, and that was the reason it instructed its teachers to remain home,” he noted.
Mukoba said TTU leaders were ready to meet with the government if the latter has genuine recommendations that will benefit the teachers.
“The Union is surprised by the act of the government to close the door for dialogue and refuse to meet with teachers and reach a consensus,” said Mukoba.
He accused police and other authorities of interfering in their strike, saying the government and the parliament were interfering with the right of the judiciary to act independently on the matter.
The High Court, Labour division expects to give a ruling today on the government petition against the strike.