ETA represented by its General Secretary on NUT’s Annual Conference in the UK

March 28, 2008

Upon the invitation of NUT, ETA’s General Secretary, Ato Gemoraw Kassa, attended the Annual Conference and was given the floor to address the audience on the opening day of the conference and on the 23rd of March/08. In his first day speech, among other things, Ato Gemoraw stressed the ongoing persecution of Trade Unions in Ethiopia. He also highlighted the invaluable contributions of Trade Union and Human Rights organisations, particularly that of NUT’s, in ETA’s all rounded capacity building drive.

On 23rd of March/08, at the International Session, persecuted Teachers Unions of Ethiopia, Palestine and Colombia were chosen to present the plight of teachers in their respective countries.

In Ethiopia’s case, Ato Gemoraw not only gave a detailed account of the persecution of ETA by the government, he was also asked questions by Teachers TV’s journalists. It is to be remembered that Teachers TV journalists had a working visit in Ethiopia from 4th Feb – 6th Feb/08. In their working visit, the journalists had documented ETA’s exemplary struggle for survival and the respect of freedom of association, they had seen ETA’s unlawfully sealed offices, they had visited the place where the late Assefa Maru, ETA’s Executive Member, was killed, they had interviewed detained, tortured and fired teachers, they had held talks with ETA’s Executive and General Secretary, they had video-recorded ETA’s 15 years long and frustrating legal battle with the government, etc. Full report of the journalists can be accessed on teacherstv.com.

The questions asked by the journalists include: why ETA is singled out for persecution by the government and whether there are other trade union organisations which are persecuted by the government. Ato Gemoraw responded that ETA got into trouble with the government for opposing the government’s plan to form its union along ethnic lines, for opposing some of the governments educational policy and putting forward the 20 teachers’ demands to the government for negotiations. The General Secretary concluded that ETA is not an exception as it is happening to all independent organisations.

When asked about ETA’s current legal status, Ato Gemoraw responded, on the 7th of April/08, the Court of Cessation, the highest judicial body in the land, will give a final ruling on ETA’s appeal against the adverse decision of the Federal High Court and Supreme Court which instructed ETA to hand over its assets and properties to the surrogate ETA that is run and controlled by the government. It is feared by those who are closely following the lengthy and frustrating court battle that the Court of Cessation may uphold the decision of the lower courts by getting rid off the longest and the last independent trade union in Ethiopia.

Related links:

Persecuted Teachers Teachers TV