The High Court’s Labour Division has ordered striking teachers to go back to work immediately, saying their action was illegal because it gave no room for the employer to respond to their claims.
Reading the ruling yesterday in Dar es Salaam, High Court Judge Sophia Wambura said the teachers’ strike was unlawful because the notice was sent to the Chief Secretary on Friday last week at 3.00 pm whereby working hours were almost over.
The judge also said that teachers were the ones who refused to continue with negotiations.
She said for a strike to be lawful the parties were supposed to come together and agree on the modalities’ of the ballot and the strike itself.
She however noted that it is clear the teachers were not fully informed of the consequences of a lawful and unlawful strike.
She also informed the teachers that participating in an unlawful strike for an indefinite period essentially means one has retired from employment or the employer can terminate the services to them.
Wambura said there was no doubt the strike has inconvenienced the students’ curricula and has caused irreversible loss which is one of the good grounds for granting an injunction.
The judge ruled also that the procedures followed were conducted in bad faith and that the ballot as well as the notice were invalid.
“Under the provision of section 84 (1) and (2) of the ELRA, I hold that the strike which has been going on for three days now is unlawful. I order that it be terminated immediately and all teachers who are on strike should resume their duties forthwith,” ruled the judge.
Judge Wambura ordered that since the strike was allegedly called through a press release then the leader who issued and signed the release stating that teachers should not go to work until he tells them to, should accordingly prepare a press release calling for an end of the strike immediately.
The judge also directed the Union to pay damages monetary or by compensating the students the classes missed during the unlawful strike which should be explained in the press release, adding: “More so for pupils who are expected to have national examinations later this year.”
Judge Wambura reminded the two parties that no one is allowed to decide whether or not a strike is lawful except the court.
She also told the two parties to return to negotiations and make deliberate efforts to reach an amicable settlement by even inviting persons who are good in labour laws and relations to assist them.
When approached for comment, the TTU president Gratian Mukoba said they will hold a press briefing today (Friday) at their office.
As the court rules against TTU, the Survey done by this paper in Dar es Salaam established that teachers were still on strike. In some areas The Guardian team witnessed some students teaching others