Tobacco company dismisses workers’ health complaints

Days after the employees of Premier Tobacco Company (PTC) protested against unhealthy working conditions, the Managing Director of the firm, Assinapol Rwigara, has reacted by dismissing their complaints.Employees of PTC have previously claimed that the company does not avail adequate facilities like facial masks to protect them from contracting tobacco-related illnesses while on duty.
Assinapol Rwigara addressing the media at his office on Friday. (Photo/ F. Goodman )
Assinapol Rwigara addressing the media at his office on Friday. (Photo/ F. Goodman )

Days after the employees of Premier Tobacco Company (PTC) protested against unhealthy working conditions, the Managing Director of the firm, Assinapol Rwigara, has reacted by dismissing their complaints.
Employees of PTC have previously claimed that the company does not avail adequate facilities like facial masks to protect them from contracting tobacco-related illnesses while on duty.

During a press conference that was held Friday at the company’s headquarters in Gikondo, Rwigara, the proprietor said that the employees’ idea to make such claims through the media was a carefully planned scheme to tarnish the company’s reputable name.

“Our staff members gathered representatives of various media houses and complained that we do not do the necessary interventions to protect their health from tobacco effects.”

This is not the case as we have provided everything that a tobacco company should to ensure a healthy working environment for employees. Some of these include facial masks, nutritious food and milk among others,” he said.

Rwigara emphasized that there is a group of people who for long have harboured intentions of tarnishing his company. He however declined to mention the people.

“The work conditions are impressive and local authorities can testify to it. We also have state-of-the-art equipment that protects the environment from tobacco smoke pollution. The person who led this group of complainants is supported by those who don’t  want to see this company grow,” he said.

Over 60 employees aired out their grievances to the media through a group that was formed under the Congress of Labour and Brotherhood – a workers’ association.
According to officials, the staff also decried meagre salaries, poor hygiene and tobacco related diseases.

They alleged that unless the management sorts such issues; many will continue to suffer from illnesses like tuberculosis - a common and often deadly infectious disease due to tobacco inhalation.

Some employees who preferred to remain anonymous told The New Times that the protest bred good results as management procured more masks, improved the hygiene of the facility but action is yet to be taken on the issue of low salaries.
The company which manufactures 100 boxes of cigarettes daily employs over 250 people.
Monthly payment ranges between Rwf 15,000 to Rwf 50,000 for most employees.

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