Parliamentarians and commissioners with the National Human Rights Commission were among people who took a day off yesterday to train in labour rights.
The session is part of a series of trainings organised by International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in partnership with local agencies, to strengthen awareness on human rights.
The workshop is expected to help parliamentarians and human rights advocates acquaint themselves with international labour standards that have been ratified by the country.
Understanding of labour rights in Rwanda is partly inspired by the work of experts at the ILO supervisory bodies, who constantly advise countries on what to do in terms of the amendment of labour legislation with the view to fully apply what countries have already committed to apply and respect.
Maura Miraglio, the programme officer and trainer at the ILO’s International Training Centre, said the workshop is also be an opportunity to think about ratifying new international labour conventions even if it may take some time before it happens.
“We believe that Members of Parliament have a leading role to play with regard to international labour standards. Parliament is mandated to enact legislation which is in conformity with ratified international labour conventions and to amend existing legislation with the view to insuring full compliance with the international labour standards,” she said yesterday.
Rwanda’s labour vision
Rwanda’s laws provide for the right to work, freedom to choose employment, right to just and favourable conditions of work, and social protection for the vulnerable, among other labour rights.
Rwanda is a member of the ILO and has already ratified 28 ILO conventions as part of complying with International Labour Standards (ILS).
The chairperson of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs in the Lower Chamber of Parliament, Marie Rose Mureshyankwano, said awareness of labour rights is currently needed in Rwanda as the country moves from an agriculture-based economy to a service based economy.
“Training about labour rights is an important. This helps us to analyse issues affecting workers in the country,” she said.
Rwanda’s population is expected to hit 16 million by 2020 and the government’s plan is to have transformed the economy by then by creating 200,000 off farm jobs every year.
“The challenge we have is population growth which brings challenges about employment,” said MP Anita Mutesi, who also sits on the parliamentary committee on Social Affairs.
The secretary-general of the biggest confederation of trade unions in Rwanda (Cestrar), Eric Manzi, told The New Times last week that complaints about violated labour rights in the country have increased as more people have a better understanding of their rights at work.
Cestrar’s assessments of complaints and questions from workers at its office and in six districts in 2013 have shown that labour related complaints and questions have increased in comparison to three previous years.
The training is part of the project, “Awareness raising and capacity building on human rights in Rwanda, with an emphasis on labour rights,” which is co-funded by the European Union.
The project is implemented by the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation in partnership with the Institute of Legal Practice and Development and the Rwanda Journalists Association.