In the early 1960s, 10,500 acres were under tea in Tanganyika. Tea estates
were located in the highlands of:and the Mufindi growers formed the Mufindi District.
The Association normally met as a body once a year in October when all
members were invited to the Annual General Meeting.
The Chairman and a small Executive Committee were elected at the AGM
with representation from each of the three Districts of the Association.
The Executive Committee met every month and brought together the officebearers,
the District chairmen and other key members from all parts of the
country. The Committee’s remit was to keep the Association’s business going and
represent members’ views and opinions to the trade union and the Government.
The TTGA staff of Secretary and Assistant Secretary worked closely with and for
the Executive Committee.
The Tanganyika Tea Board
The Tea Board had the task of developing tea production among African
farmers on their own and in co-operatives. The Board provided the forum
where the Government could bring planters and peasant tea-growers side
by side and enable estate managers to support and promote tea growing
among African farmers in their small-holdings. For these purposes, the Board
comprised two Government members, two Tanganyikan farmers representing
all peasant growers, and four members of the TTGA, including me as its
The Secretary’s work was to call meetings, write agenda and papers for the
meetings, and record the minutes. In addition the Secretary was required to
write and monitor the Board’s budget and expenditure. More importantly the
Secretary was in a position to draft discussion papers on methods of increasing
African tea-growing, particularly on small-holdings around the big estates with
factories to process the tea.
The Federation of Tanganyika Employers
The FTE had offices on the floor adjacent to those of the TTGA in the
Standard Bank Building. Its role was to bring together all employers in
commerce, mining, manufacturing and agriculture and provided them with a
voice to the Government on employment matters.
Employers in agriculture were members of the Rural Division of the FTE.
Here the TTGA sat alongside representatives of cotton, sugar, sisal and coffee
producers and those involved in ‘mixed farming’.
The TTGA Secretary and Assistant Secretary attended meetings of the Rural
Division, and worked closely with the FTE Director and Assistant Director in
developing and promoting the position of all employers in Tanganyika.
The Standing Joint Committee
The SJC was the forum in which the employers, notably those with
plantations and estates of sisal, sugar, cotton, coffee and tea, met the trade
union representing agricultural workers. A Government Minister took the chair
– sometimes Mr Kamaliza, the Minister of Labour. The SJC was the place where
negotiations were conducted formally between the employers and the union,
leading generally to National Agreements. The TTGA Secretary and Assistant
Secretary attended SJC meetings, normally in support of our Chairman who
was the Association’s representative.
The Trade Union
In 1963, the Tanganyika Union of Plantation Workers (TUPW) was the
trade union for agricultural workers on tea estates. TTGA members recognised
local branches of the union and permitted them to organise workers on the
tea estates in local formal and informal agreements. TUPW Branch Secretaries
varied in their approach to relations with their employers; on many estates the
relationship was constructive; on some, however, notably in the Tanga District
of the Association in the Usambara Mountains, there was a good deal of friction
between managers and branch officials who tended to challenge management
decisions in organising and directing labour on the estates.
In these circumstances, it was the TTGA Secretary’s job to suggest ways to
strengthen the managers’ hands, while helping to improve relations with the
Union. At the same time, the Secretary was required to advise on ways to secure
greater cooperation from the Government, and less exacting directives regarding
the organisation and control of labour.
In October 1964, Mr Kamaliza, the Minister for Labour, made it known that
he intended to merge all the trade unions into one monolithic National Workers
Movement (NWM) under the control of TANU, the single political party, with
close links to the Government. The Government proposed to nationalise all
trade unions as an arm of the one-party state and to oblige employers to cede to
the proposed new union wide powers over their employment. It was envisaged
the NWM would have its own negotiating committee at every workplace which
the employer would be required to inform of his financial and employment
plans and give the right to decide the number of workers in each plant or estate
and to decide whether or not a man should be sacked.
This plan was modelled on the laws of Communist Yugoslavia and was
presented as a development of the socialist one–party state that Nyerere and
the Cabinet were pursuing. Its effect would be that employers would no longer
negotiate wages and terms of service with the workers’ own trades union but
instead would have to deal directly with the Government nominees who would
have the right to determine the size and the wages of the work-force on any
Neither the trade unions nor the employers were prepared to accept this plan.
The trade unions saw themselves as being nationalised and losing their separate
identities; and their leaders made forceful representations to the Government;
the employers meeting in the FTE saw the plan as the negation of free enterprise
and the backdoor to nationalisation, and argued strongly in favour of a free
system of wage bargaining.
Following intensive negotiations, the Government modified some of its
ideas, but the Minister pressed ahead with his plan to merge the all trade unions
into one and give the new entity a strong bargaining position. The Minister’s
final position was announced in November 1964, and the National Union of
Tanganyika Workers (Establishment) Act passed into law early in 1965. All
employees were required to join the NUTW and all employers were required to
recognise it as representative of their employees.
Wages in the Tea Industry
The new Government declared its aim to be ‘to introduce a high-wage
economy’. Employers in the tea industry recognised that the wages paid to
labourers on their estates were very low. At the beginning of 1963, the statutory
monthly minimum wage for all industries in rural areas other than tea was Shs
100/- (£5/-), thus acknowledging the greater profitability of the cotton, sugar
and sisal industries. At the same time, the basic wage for the mass of unskilled
workers on the tea estates - the ‘plucking rate’ - was Shs 84/- (£4:4/-) a month.
One had much sympathy for the labourers but the cultivation of tea at that
time depended on cheap labour. Large numbers of workers were required to
look after the bushes, plant, weed, manure, prune and pluck the tea. There
were between three and five hundred labourers on an estate of average size, and
three thousand at Brooke Bond at the peak period every year. Any rise in the
minimum wage would considerably increase the costs of production, and was
resisted by the TTGA arguing that, when labour ceased to be cheap, tea estates
would be unable to carry on their businesses.
The TTGA was nevertheless put under strong pressure to increase rates.
In March 1963, the Non-Plantation Minimum Wage Board recommended a
minimum wage for the tea industry of Shs 91/- (£4:11/-) monthly – a rise of some
9%. The TTGA responded to this proposal by inviting Professor Guillebaud, a
highly respected economics expert, to come out to the country and visit the tea
estates to report on the economics of tea-growing in Tanganyika.
At the end of June, the Professor finished his report on the tea industry in
Tanganyika and flew back to Cambridge. He left the TTGA with an academic
study that demonstrated the dependence of tea on the vagaries of the international
market place and the inescapable need for the industry to employ a large low-wage
work-force. He demonstrated the small amount of profit that tea was currently
earning for those who had invested in it. He adduced powerful arguments, well
supported by facts and figures, concluding that the tea industry would cease to be
profitable if it suffered any further increase in costs. The Guillebaud Report was available to the TTGA to use and deploy in presentations to the Government and
trade unions against the demands for higher wages and higher taxes.
The Association set up a sub-committee of key members, of which I was secretary,
to decide how to use the report. There were interesting differences of opinion. Some
members felt strongly that we should go to the union and offer the workers an
immediate wage increase. Other Association members were fearful lest an approach
to the union would encourage their leaders to make other less acceptable demands
that would be bound to increase production costs.
It became clear that the trade union leaders wanted not only a considerable rise
in pay but also a complete revision of the Wage Agreement. The argument went to
and fro in the summer of 1963 within the Association and with representatives of
the more prosperous sisal and sugar plantation owners within the FTE. Late that
summer I produced a report that summarised the state of play as follows:
The Association handed the Union the ‘Economic Survey of the Tea Industry
covering the years 1961 to 1963’, together with a table of comparative wage rates in
tea industries in other producing countries in the world, an wages in the industry.
The Association offered to provide any explanation or elucidation of these papers
requested by the Union. The Association represented that these documents showed
that the Association was quite unable to meet the Union’s claims.
The Association said that it fully appreciated the policy of the Government for a
steady rise in rural incomes as disclosed in the Five-Year Plan, and the Association
was ready to comply with this policy so far as the finances of members permitted, by
giving such increase in the basic wage as was within the capacity of its members to
pay, and then only when balanced by an equivalent increase in productivity by the
The Association had, therefore, no alternative but to reject the Union’s claims, but
the Association felt it was acting in line with the Government policy in offering the
Union an increase in the basic wages of five and three quarters per cent to Shs.85/63
monthly, which was the increase calculated as necessary to raise the incomes of wageearners
in the industry to comply with the Plan requirements for the current year.
The Union argued that the papers tabled by the Association were uncorroborated,
and in any ease presented only one side of the picture. The Union confidently believed
that although some companies might be making losses others were well able to afford
the increase demanded. The Union viewed their demand as a fair increase to relieve
the workers from suffering and bring wages in the industry into line with those in
other rural industries, such as sisal and sugar. The Union offered the industry its
full support in tackling the problems of marketing its product and in improving the
economic state of the industry.
The Union pointed out that the statutory minimum wage of Shs.100/- had been
imposed two years ago for all other industries in rural areas, and the Union was not
convinced that the industry could not afford to pay the legal minimum figure. Moreover,
the Non-Plantation Minimum Wage Board had recommended a minimum wage for
the tea industry of Shs.9l/- monthly in March 1963, and the Union believed that the
Association had accepted this figure. The Association denied that it had ever accepted
the Mufundo recommendations. The Association had, however, no alternative but to
argue incapacity to pay on the facts shown. The economy of the industry depended
largely upon factors beyond the control of management, including
i) the world-market price of tea: Tanganyika produced less than 1% of the total
world production and had no influence on the price for the product which was
determined by market forces at the London auctions. The price had never been high
for Tanganyika teas, and was at present on the down grade, although the Association
always had hopes of an improvement in the position;
(ii) the industry’s competitive position: and it was noted that the basic monthly
wage paid in the richest tea-producing districts of Assam equalled exactly the wage
currently paid by the Association.
[I regret the concluding sentences of this report have been lost.]
Unsurprisingly, none of these arguments persuaded the trade union to
reduce its demands nor the Government to relax its pressure on all employers
in agricultural industries to lift wages and give their employees a bigger stake in
Reaching Agreement on Recognition and Wage Levels
Following the creation of the monolithic national trade union (the NUTW),
the pressure on employers to raise wages was intensified. The TTGA discussed
the arguments for and against offering higher wages at length during the summer
and autumn of 1964. Late in the year the Association approached the NUTW
(still based at the old TUPW offices in Tanga), offering a graduated employment
structure with some increase in wages according to the nature of the job; and the
TTGA asked for an increase in productivity at every level to match the increase
in wages. It was then agreed to hold a series of all-day face-to-face meetings
concluding with a round-table conference and a formal Recognition and Wage
In November 1964, the first of these meetings took place in acrimony
following an argument over the venue for the opening session. The union
wanted it to take place in Tanga; the TTGA insisted it should be held in Dar
es Salaam. The union lost that argument on practical grounds, but, were in no mood to agree anything else when face to face with the employers, and the
meeting made no progress.
In mid December the second joint meeting took place following a session
of the Tea Board. No agreement was reached on this occasion either. TTGA
members felt they could not accede to the union’s demands for big wage increases
because of the weakness of the market for their product, while acknowledging
they were under strong pressure to make concessions. The union announced
they would go to arbitration, as the law provided, and a Conciliation Board was
set up by the Government.
The TTGA placed on the record that it was the union, not the employers
that had broken off negotiations on wage rates and the proposed Recognition
Agreement. Despite the union demand for immediate conciliation, negotiations
continued in an exchange of letters over future wage levels, notably the plucking
rate that was at the heart of all discussions.
In late January 1965, a meeting of the TTGA Executive Committee was
followed by the third joint meeting with the NUTW in the SJC. At the third
joint meeting, discussion concerned the amount by which the plucking rate
should be lifted, and the sort of increase in productivity that the unions should
accept in exchange. Some progress was made.
Ten days later an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the Association
agreed the employers’ position. Immediately following the EGM, the TTGA
Executive Committee met the NUTW at the fourth joint meeting of the SJC,
and the Government at a further meeting of the Tea Board. Agreement was then
reached setting wage rates on a graduated scale, and committing employers in
the tea industry to official recognition of the new union’s rights on estates. The
Agreement also committed TTGA members to apply the union shop on all
estates, whereby employers undertook to employ only workers who signed up
and paid up as members of the NUTW.
After Independence, the Government put the plantation industries under
persistent pressure to increase the numbers employed on the estates. Employers
understood the Government’s motives, were keen to cooperate with the
Government and in some situations found it possible to offer more short term
employment, but the big employers like Brooke Bond had severe problems with
the Government’s demands.
The TTGA explained to the Government that employment in the tea
industry in Mufindi and Tukuyu was seasonal; two thirds of the tea grown in these districts was collected in six months each year. At the height of the season
when plucking was in full swing and the company’s three factories were working
to capacity, three thousand workers were employed; but the number was halved
in the off-season when little tea could be plucked, and very few workers were
needed on the estates. BB claimed it would be unable to trade were it obliged
to pay wages to over one thousand employees to do nothing through Mufindi’s
rainless months. The managers of tea estates in the Tukuyu district explained
that they had a similar seasonal requirement for labour, with large numbers of
workers needed during the rainy season and very few in the dry season.
Late in 1964, the Government increased pressure on all big employers to
take on more workers regardless of budgets and real requirements. The TTGA
was obliged to take part in a series of exchanges with the Government about
reducing unemployment by increasing the labour force working in tea gardens,
and was represented at meetings in both Dar and Nairobi at various levels on
tackling unemployment. Throughout these discussions, the TTGA resisted all
demands that tea estates employed more workers than were needed for the work
to be done.
The Government instituted and rapidly promoted the process of
Africanisation, pressing employers to engage Africans at every level. This
was understandable and perfectly acceptable, and employers were prepared
to respond, but inevitably the lack of experience and qualifications of many
Tanganyikan candidates remained a barrier to their promotion to managerial
and professional jobs.
By Easter 1963 the Government was making it difficult for employers to
bring expatriates into the country. The old European settlers who had looked
upon Tanganyika as their home in the past were finding themselves classified as
foreigners. No ‘alien’ was allowed to work in the country for more than a specified
number of years. Permanent Passes for expatriates working in Tanzania were
being cancelled and replaced by something called the Temporary Employment
Permit (TEP) that was issued only in situations where it could be demonstrated
that no Tanganyikan was available to do the job.
My political report that summer read as follows: Public pressure and all
groups in the Cabinet would like to see the spread of Afrianisation from the public
sector to employment in the private sector; and pressure will increase on commercial
companies to bring this about. It is likely the strongest pressure will come not through
the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (a moderate member of the Cabinet) but through alteration of existing immigration rules and citizenship laws by the Minister
for Home Affairs. Europeans will be prevented from working in the country for
more than a limited period and will be forced to arrange local replacements for their
expatriate employees – as is happening elsewhere in Africa and new Asia.
In early July 1964, the Government announced its intention to change
the law on immigration to restrict further the entry of ‘aliens’ to work in the
country. Members of the FTE and the Dar es Salaam Chamber of Commerce
met and made representations to the Government about the continuing need
for trained and qualified expatriates in managerial positions and the risks of
lowering standards too quickly.
Despite such arguments, the Government increased pressure on employers,
tightened up the criteria for the issue of TEPs to expatriates, required employers
to make convincing cases to bring in expatriates to work in the country, and
was slow to issue them. The TTGA assisted members in these matters and was
frequently involved in making the case for a TEP to be granted to an expatriate
Manager or Assistant Manager in order to take up employment on one estate or
another. It took several months in late 1964 for the TTGA to secure TEPs for
two new Managers urgently needed to run tea estates, despite working closely
with the Immigration Authorities in Dar and enlisting the support of the FTE.
The Land Ordinance of the early 1920s, updated and confirmed in 1947,
gave indigenous people living on the land the right to cultivate it for their
livelihood. Non-Africans wishing to develop the land, or to take over land seized
from the Germans during the war, might be granted rights of occupancy for
a period up to ninety-nine years. These leases were normally granted on two
simple conditions – that rent was paid as assessed by the Land Department and
that the land was properly developed within a reasonable period of time.
After Independence, the Government took powers to seize land, cancel old
property-rights and restrict leases under certain conditions. In particular, the
Government passed The Freehold Titles (Conversion) and Government Leases
Act in 1963, and extended it in the following year in order to take powers to
terminate leases where land leased to developers was not being developed. The
new Government began to follow the letter of the law and at times simply
ignored the legal position in challenging land occupancy. The Land Office
issued a special notice in October 1964, which it was obliged to withdraw when
challenged as being contrary to the law of the land. Pressure on land-owners
continued to grow; rights of occupancy were revoked in the Iringa and Arusha areas on the ostensible grounds that the occupant had failed to develop the land.
The Government was thought to be aiming to nationalise land occupied by
European settlers – without compensation.
The TTGA made clear members’ views that the new measures discouraged
investment of external capital in land in Tanzania and could seriously hamper
the development of productive capacity on estates.
Additional pressure was being heaped on estate managers by squatters.
Subsistence farmers habitually moved their families on to apparently empty land
on the undefined fringes of tea estates, built temporary homes and cultivated
annual crops. This situation was frequently tolerated by managers in the interest
of good neighbourliness, but there were signs that it was becoming a deliberate
policy to occupy increasingly large areas of developed estates.
The Government passed a law entitled the Land (Settlement of Disputes)
Act 1963 which provided a means to resolve disputes between land occupiers
and squatters. The law enabled land-owners plagued by squatters to apply to the
Minister to declare a dispute and arrange arbitration, with powers to enforce
the arbitrator’s judgement. This legal procedure was periodically invoked by tea
estate managers, in efforts to regain the opportunity to develop land on which
they were paying rent within their boundaries. In theory the process was fair and
helpful to the land-owners, but in practice it was a long and tedious business
with an uncertain outcome.