KIGALI - The confederation of trade unions in Rwanda (CESTRAR) has made known its intentions to investigate Rwandatel over the recent sacking of 120 employees.
During an interview last week, Eric Manzi, the Secretary General of CESTRAR said that the confederation would approach the issue ‘bit by bit’ to establish where there were irregularities in laying off one-third of employees at the telecommunications company.
The latest development unfolds after the affected workers lodged their complaints at CESTRAR saying they were sacked under unfair circumstances.
“Among the people who were sacked are two leaders of the Workers’ Union at Rwandatel and so far, there is no evidence to justify their sacking,” said Manzi.
“One can simply suspect that these people and others were sacked because they posed a threat to the employer,” he said.
“These people know their rights and cannot simply accept whatever the employer imposes,” Manzi added.
Rwandatel, the country’s first telecommunication company, has maintained that the sacking was part of its restructuring in the human resources department.
According to the victims, the controversial sackings were carried out contrary to both the company’s internal regulations and Labour Code. Some allege that the list of those to be sacked had been compiled before the interviews for the restructuring process were set.
“Before Rwandatel initiated this retrenchment practice, we, as a workers union, requested to be a part of this process. But the management denied us this right,” Manzi had earlier said.
Manzi threatens that Rwandatel huge employees’ sacking matter may end up in courts of law if laws continue to be disrespected.
Patrick Kariningufu, Rwandatel’s Chief Executive Officer, maintains that the law was followed and the sackings were fairly done.
“Just like the Labour Code stipulates, we intend to give the sacked employees their retrenchment packages of six months salaries, depending on the number of years they worked for the company, so there should be no fears about this,” Kariningufu said a few days after the sackings.
In related development, Manzi revealed that 3,000 complaints over mistreatments by employers have been lodged with CESTRAR in the past three years.
Interpreting these figures, Manzi said most employers don’t know or respect the labour law. At least three complaints of employees are filed each day alleging employers’ mistreatment that range from not having contracts to denial of social benefits like health insurance and social security.
According to Manzi most workers are largely ignorant of their rights and that they only focus on being employed and earning money for survival.
Julie Kamukama, a labour inspector in the ministry of Labour, confirmed that most employees are ignorant of their rights and end up being exploited by their employers.