PSI Tanzanian affiliates, the Tanzania Union of Government and Health Employees (TUGHE), the Researchers, Academicians and Allied Workers Union (RAAWU), the Tanzania Local Government Workers Union (TALGWU) and the Tanzania Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers (TUICO) participated in this organising workshop planned in the framework of the project implemented by PSI in partnership with Kommunal and Union to Union on "Organising workers for trade union unity of action, density and quality public services in East Africa" that has been running from 2018-2022.
Unions discussed the trend in union density since 2018 and the challenges faced in the effort to increase membership. All unions in Tanzania have recorded an increase of members since 2018, when the project begun. The increase in membership ranged between 9% and 22% for the four affiliates in Tanzania. Some of the key success factors that led to the reported increase is the creation of women and young workers’ committees to recruit more women and young workers into the union. Additionally, the budget for organising has been increased, with some unions noting that the organising budget was close to 30% of their annual budgets. Creativity in terms of electronic membership cards is also enabling unions to monitor the retention of their members. Some unions have made agreements with service providers to offer discounted services to their members upon presentation of the electronic cards.
In terms of challenges, the issues of non-implementation of CBAs by the government was acting as a demotivating factor for potential members. Challenges of demarcation and lapse of membership in some sectors were also discussed and all PSI affiliates agreed on the need for a comprehensive dialogue to solve the boundary and demarcation issues, as employers are taking advantage of the current demarcation disputes to weaken the unions. In terms of the participation of women and young workers in leadership structures, several unions had women in the top leadership with some having been elected as chairpersons and vice chairpersons of their respective unions. This shows progress towards gender empowerment within the union structures.
The gap in terms of visibility of union activities was observed as the union leadership was engaged in a number of social dialogues to improve workers’ welfare, however, these efforts went unnoticed due to inadequate public information. It was recommended that modern communication technologies and apps like twitter, Facebook pages etc should be adopted and managing innovative ways of communication to enhance union visibility. As part of revitalisation, affiliates were advised to engage on national policy debates eg. On tax justice, budget debates, etc in order to address wider societal issues, considering that workers are part of the bigger community.
Interactions with young worker leaders provided insights into the gap between young workers and full participation in trade unionism. The young workers advised the organiser to open up and mentor young workers across borders.