Tanzania Union of Industrial and Commercial Workers (TUICO), is a trade union in Tanzania operating in sectors of Industries, Commerce, Financial Institutions, Service and Consultancy. Occupational Health and Safety is one of the many areas that TUICO is committed to in serving the workers community.
During the global coronavirus pandemic outbreak, TUICO is making sure that employers and employees adhere to the safety precautions as always instructed by health specialists from the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization.
TUICO OHS team recently visited two cement production industries and its TUICO HQ office to observe what measures has been taken by the employers in safeguarding their employees against the spread of COVID-19. The team comprised of Mr. Samwel Lyimo and Shikunzi John, OHS and Education Officers from TUICO HQ, Mr. Sebastian Okiki Senior IT Officer, Adv. Prosper Mrema, Assistant Head of Industrial Sector and Mr. George Namkinga, TUICO Kinondoni Regional Secretary.
The first workplace visited was Fortune Cement Company (T) Limited. The HR officer of Fortune Cement, Mr. Theodory Mvulla told TUICO OHS team that they had taken several measures to protect workers from COVID-19.

�We are currently taking all necessary precautions as advised by the health department, we have installed handwashing stations, we have body temperature guns for everybody who comes into the premises, we have made sure everybody wears face masks and keeps social distance� � Mr. Mvulla said.

However, Mr. Mvulla said coronavirus has affected them immensely especially on sales. On his part, TUICO Branch secretary at Fortune Cement, Mr. Nurueli Mmari who is also Fortune�s Weighbridge Operator, told the team that he was delighted very much to see TUICO visit them especially during these hard times and said the management is doing their best to keep them safe by insisting them to take preventive measures and provision of sanitizers, facemask during work hours and ensuring that all visitors have facemasks, undergo body temperature test and wash hands before getting into the premises.

�Coronavirus is a disease attacking the respiratory system and can be spread through droplets from an infected person and can be avoided by washing hands regularly, avoiding contact with people affected, remaining at home when you can� � said Mbasa in response to the question from Sebastian Okiki, on what is coronavirus.

TUICO while observing all safety health precautions like social distancing conducted a five-minutes coronavirus awareness session in presence of few from different departments hoping them to be ambassadors to other workers. Those present included, Mr. Philipo Mbasa (General Supervisor), Richard Kisyombe (Packaging ), Elias Mnonjela (Procument), Ally Juma (Production) and Watson Joe (Laboratory and TUICO Branch Secretary at Fortune)

�The management has suspended nightshift in the industry due to minimal supervision during the night so that all employees can remain safe at home� � Said Watson.

Fortune Cement Company (T) Limited are the producers of Diamond Cement and is located at Mkuranga area in Pwani Region, Tanzania Mainland. Over 80% of the employees are members of TUICO.
The team also visited Tanzania Portland Cement Plc. (Twiga Cement) to observe measures taken by the company in protecting workers from COVID-19 and possible effects. In a brief session organized by the TPCC Plc. branch leaders and the TPCC Plc. OHS director Mr. Jerome Mbela. Mr. Jerome told briefed the team on measures they were taking to protect workers.

�Even before Tanzania had the first case, we had set out a containment plan and began creating awareness about the pandemic and initial steps of preventing workers. Therefore, we�re doing all we can to protect workers from COVID-19 by observing all directives from the health specialists and organizations.� � Mr. Jerome said.

Mr. Jerome added that they began by creating awareness through noticeboards, emails and posters within the plant and during pre-shift briefings. He also said that the company has set aside a budget for containing the virus by installing two handwashing stations within the premises and several sanitizer dispensers around the buildings.

�We also have purchased N95 respirators for our staff, have a health emergency isolation point, body temperature guns and and ensures that all preventive measures are observed by everyone in the plant.� � He added.

However, Mr. Jerome said that they are facing several challenges like budget constraints which has led them to resort to home-made facemasks for employees to wear off duty, culture shock from drivers coming into the plant and sales may drop if the virus continues over a long period of time.

�In practicing safety, we have everyone coming into the plant body temperature measured, must put on a facemask and observes social distance during briefing sessions and in the canteens� � He explained.

On her side, Ms. Neema Mungure from the HR department said the company has reduced the number of night shifts, began working from home especially for employees who do not necessarily need to be onsite and empowered them with the necessary equipment and systems. She also said even the sub-contractor employees have been very cooperative and all adhere to health routines.

TPC TUICO branch secretary Mr. Mkid Mbeyela in response to a question posed by Mr. Samwel Lyimo during Q&A session said the management awards employees who have the most appealing ideas on how to keep containing the virus including ideas on awareness creation and preventive measures.

In response to Adv. Mrema�s question on how subcontractors are considered in the process, both the HR and OHS Manager said that they are all briefed during the pre-shift briefing and their contract clauses require them to adhere to all safety guidelines as it is with the parent employer. However, Mr. Jerome explained that he is afraid that the subcontractors may not be in the position to keep providing facemask to their employees as the product prices hike daily.

Other questions about consideration of vulnerable groups like people with other disabilities, what the company is doing to help the surrounding community and people with poor immunity and how the employees are coping with the situation were responded to by the HR officer who said there are no special treatment for these people and neither has the company done anything for the community so far, however she said other matters were above her level and that those could be explained by the Director�s office.
The OHS session was attended by six employees from TPCC Plc. and a team from TUICO HQ.

Tanzania Portland Cement Public Company Limited trading as Twiga Cement is the largest cement producing company in Tanzania. It is part of Heidelberg Cement Group. It was established in 1966 with the principal activity of manufacturing and selling of cement. The company is located at Wazo Hill area in Kinondoni District of Dar es salaam in Tanzania Mainland. TUICO has majority of members in the company.

On the other hand, the OHS team visited TUICO HQ and interviewed employees about what the union is doing to protect or in support of the fight against COVID-19. The team spoke to the Head of Education and Organizing Sector, Mr. Fredrick Mng�ong�o who said the union has laid down several plans to protect its employees.

�Infact, the union is taking this matter serious not only from the perspective of members, but also internally. The general secretary has rolled out two circulars to ask employees of the union to take necessary precautions against COVID-19 as advised by health departments and require them to stop all gatherings, seminars and meetings that can be done alternatively� � Fred said.

He also added that the union contributed Tshs. 10 million in the national relief fund to assist the government in buying equipment for frontline workers.

On her side, TUICO HQ branch secretary, Mrs. Sipe Mazengo said the management of TUICO has shown concern and taken measures to protect its employees by installing sanitizers, handwashing stations, posters and creating awareness awareness among the workers on how to prevent themselves and others against COVID-19.

Mr. Jumanne Haule, an employee at TUICO said that COVID-19 is a blow to the activities of the union as most seminars, meetings, negotiations and cases have been stalled so as to avoid gatherings.

"These are the key union activities and services to her members. Surely, we are in a dilemma and during this time a lot of workers will require legal assistance because some mischievous employers will want to terminate them without following proper procedures" Said Mr. Haule

On his part, Mr. Sebastian Okiki, Senior IT Officer at TUICO HQ said, TUICO has began working from home in shifts which calls for his department to deploy systems that will allow the workers to work remotely.

"We have developed and installed information systems and trained our staff on how to work from home using their laptops. Our employer has also provided us with all necessary equipment including conferencing facilities that will allow us to hold our internal and even external meetings remotely. We are currently working on infographic materials for organizing and seminars and an online membership registration portal for members wishing to join us as we try to avoid gatherings and deploy technology in our activities during these difficult times." Mr. Sebastian said.

TUICO employees are currently working from home in shifts and has cancelled all seminars, gatherings, meetings and organizing activities done physical and resorted to online methods to perform their activities including TUICO elections which had begun since February 2020 at branch level.
The government of Tanzania has not declared a curfew and has allowed business and workers to work but while taking precautions and preventive steps in the fight against COVID-19.


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