Ethiopia: International mobilisation to support the authentic teachers' association

EI witnessed another dramatic development affecting teachers and their union in Ethiopia. On Thursday 30 March 2006, the Ethiopian Federal High Court ruled that the authentic ETA leadership (EI's affiliate) has to hand over every asset and property of the association to a government-sponsored group also called ETA.

The case started in April 1993, when government asked teachers to file charges against EI affiliate ETA, stating that it does not function. Since then, the real ETA - supported by EI and affiliates such as the AOb (Netherlands), AEU (Australia), AFT (USA), NEA (USA), NUT (UK) and many others - has tried to follow all possible legal procedures to be recognised as the real "Ethiopia Teachers Association". It almost succeeded in November 2003, when the Federal High court delivered a clear-cut verdict stating that the Ministry of Justice has committed an illegal act by registering a new ETA whilst the veteran ETA is existing. The government-sponsored ETA appealed to the Supreme Court which ordered the Federal High Court to reconsider its decision. Accordingly, the same court but with a different judge, revoked its own verdict on 30 March 2006. The real ETA will use its right to appeal to the Supreme Court to exhaust the whole course. EI will contact the ILO to find out about possible actions, one of which is to lodge a new complaint against the Government of Ethiopia. EI had previsouly lodged such a complaint in 1996 (Case no. 1888), and in March 2003, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association concluded that "teachers, like other workers, should have the right to form organisations of their own choosing and to negotiate collectively, and requested the Government to amend its legislation accordingly". EI will also issue a formal letter of protest to the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

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