TUCTA to ask for briefing from all presidential candidates By ROSE ATHUMANI, Daily News 9th August 2010 THE Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) has said that it will ask all presidential candidates for the October general elections to brief delegates during its annual convention next month on how they will deal with various challenges that affect workers. The Union's Acting Secretary General, Mr Nicholas Mgaya, said this in Dar es Salaam ON Monday during a press briefing. ''We intend to invite the presidential candidates and learn from them through dialogue how much they know about the plight of workers. We also want to know their way forward in the quest to help improve the situation. They must explain to us how they intend to defend workers rights if elected into office,'' Mgaya explained. ''We will decide whom to give the votes at the general meeting in September, after ascertaining that the presidential candidate has the interest of the workers at heart,'' Mr Mgaya, who was presiding over Researchers, Academician and Allied Workers Union (RAAWU) meeting, said. Mr Mgaya noted that the plight of workers in the country has not been solved yet explaining that more than half of the funds allocated for salaries in the national budget normally goes into allowances for government officials. ''Only 41 per cent of the money allocated for salaries actually goes into salary budgets but 59 per cent goes into allowances for government offices, especially directors and other top government officials. Half of the allowances could have been injected into workers salaries,'' he explained. He noted that in 2006/07 alone 113bn/- was spent on allowances for government officials. ''We are not saying that there should not be allowances, but rather half of the allowances should be injected into salaries allocations,'' he added. Tucta is pressing for pay increase; improved pension schemes and reduction of taxes. Mr Mgaya says the minimum salary that the government granted was too little compared to the prevailing standard of living. ''We had demanded that the lowest salary should be pegged at 315, 000/-. We agreed to go down to 160, 000 but the government maintained that it could afford 135, 000/- but this is still very little,'' he stressed. On tax reduction Mr Mgaya said that the one per cent granted by the government was too little and on pension, he noted that they are awaiting for the government to establish an authority to supervise the scheme but still noted that retirees are still facing hardships. ''A Member of Parliament who only stays for five years then retires gets 45m/- for pension but a normal worker who works for 40 years gets 4m/-,'' he explained. He also revealed that a minister who gets invited to officiate at a workshop receives 1.2m/- from the organizers, while the deputy minister receives 900, 000/- and the Permanent Secretary receives 600, 000/-. ''With this kind of money, which a minister receives after officiating, say four workshops in a month, he will not fight for the plight of those receiving low wages because he does not understand the hardships they go through,'' he explained. Mr Mgaya advised RAAWU members to choose leaders who cannot be cowed but stand firm in advocating for workers' rights at the RAAWU meeting which was called to deliberate reports and choose a new leadership into power. ''This is not an arena for those who are easily scared or those with self interests. This is a place to fight for the rights of those you are leading without intimidation from any corner,'' he said.