Tanzania's new dispute resolution system
Jul 05, 2010
Reading time: 5 minutes (594 words)
The two relatively new laws – the labor Institution Act, 2004 and the Employment and labor Relations Act, 2004 mark the cornerstones of the modernized labor relations regime in Tanzania. The Acts establish new labor institutions an important one of which is the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration (CMA) as a means of resolving labor disputes.
The new labor regime introduces the principle that labor disputes should be solved as early and at a low a level as possible. It is encouraged therefore that labor disputes be resolved at the place of work. This requires, among other things, that both employers and worker/s are aware of their rights and obligations and how to manage these. Over the years, trade unions and employers' organizations such as the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) and the Association of Tanzanian Employers (ATE) have offered courses to their members and representatives on the new labor laws. TUCTA and ATE have also established competent units to assist their members on labor relations issues. However, despite this there is still no doubt that many employers and workers are not fully familiar with the content of the new labor laws as well as the procedures associated with them.
If it is not possible to settle the disagreement at the workplace, the parties can bring their dispute to the CMA. It is the expectation that the CMA will provide a new, less legalistic and bureaucratic system for resolving labor disputes through an informal but structured hearing and discussion process. The CMA will achieve this firstly by mediation. If unsuccessful, the case will go for arbitration. In short, the difference between the two processes is that the mediation process attempts to find a settlement which is acceptable to both parties, whereas the arbitration process allows the arbitrator to make a decision based on a hearing.
One of the preconditions for a well functioning CMA is that the parties have faith in the institution, its procedures and the mediators and arbitrators. The CMA is independent of the Government, political parties, trade unions and employers' association.
A Code of Conduct has been developed governing the function of mediators and arbitrators. The mediators and arbitrators are well versed with labor relations and some have even previously worked as labor officers. During the process of establishing the CMA, tailored training was offered to mediators and arbitrators aimed at preparing them for their new duties and responsibilities. To service the entire country, the CMA has established eleven operational zonal offices as follows:
- Dar es Salaam zone which covers Coast and Morogoro
- Dodoma zone which covers Dodoma and Singida
- Morogoro zone which covers Morogoro, Ifakara and Kilosa
- Arusha zone which covers Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Same and Manyara
- Tanga zone which covers Tanga, Korogwe and Lushoto
- Mwanza zone which covers Mwanza, Bukoba, Musoma and Shinyanga
- Mbeya zone which covers Mbeya and Rukwa
- Mtwara zone which covers Mtwara and Lindi
- Songea zone which for Ruvuma
- Iringa zone which covers Iringa and Mafinga
- Tabora zone which covers Tabora and Kigoma
When a dispute is brought to the CMA, the parties must be represented by a third party, the trade union, ATE or a lawyer specialized in labor relations. This highlights the relevance for workers and employers to seek assistance from those that can offer them legal advice.
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