The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed between the Sorwathe tea firm and two of the country’s leading trade unions two years ago has helped improve staff welfare, workers said on Friday, as the two parties renewed the deal.
The agreement, first signed in 2012, aimed at improving the welfare of employees and facilitating future negotiations between the firm and its employees.
It was signed between Sorwathe employees and Cotraf and Cestrar, umbrella bodies for more than 20 affiliated trade unions comprising over 75,000 members from the private and public sectors.
Around 2,500 employees of Sorwathe alone are benefiting from the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
While renewing the agreement on Friday, Sorwathe employees said the understanding has also helped them improve the productivity of the company.
Based in Rulindo District, Sorwathe is the country’s largest tea processor and exporter.
The agreement was signed between Theodomir Hategekimana on behalf of Sorwathe employees and Eric Manzi, the executive secretary of Cestrar.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Hategekimana said since the agreement first came into force, their working conditions have improved.
He said cases where workers sought legal redress for minor complaints have since reduced significantly.
“Salaries increased by 26 per cent in the past two years and all employees are paid through the bank which gives them access to loans. Women are also entitled to maternal leave of 16 weeks while men get six days (paternity leave). Also after weeding, an employee gets three days off. All these are benefits accruing from the agreement,” Hategekimana said.
He added that 23 employees have been promoted so far.
“We also sit as workers and discuss our progress. We are now looking forward to a better future thanks to improved working conditions,” he said.
Rohith Peiris, the director general of Sorwathe, said CBA underlines their commitment to respect workers’ rights.
“I am happy to mention that Sorwathe was the first company in the country to sign the CBA in 2012. Following the signing, 23 of our staff have been promoted to fill up vaccant positions and we hope to continue with this policy,” Peiris said.
He added that the company is committed to improving workers’ welfare as well as the welfare of their families through construction of schools, supporting vulnerable but bright students as well as providing internship placements for students in the area.
Eric Manzi, the executive secretary of Cestrar, said workers’ unions not only help employees improve their working environment but also help bridge the gap between employers and their employees.
Rulindo District officials lauded Sorwathe for contributing to the socio-economic development of the area through providing a conducive environment for workers.