While labour is one of the most important factors of economic growth, it often goes underreported or undercompensated. The Rwandan labour law does not specify the minimum wage stipulated by the law, but it has previously been Rwf 100 per day, according to the law enacted back in 1978 even though trade unionists call for its review since commodity prices and living expenses have risen over the past 40 years. When the minimum wage was adopted in Rwanda, a public servant’s salary stood at Rwf 6,000 while a bottle of beer costed Rwf 30, hence it should be reviewed depending on the fluctuating market prices. The Ceremony was graced by the Dutch and EU envoys to Rwanda with the EU parliamentarian who was in an official visit to Rwanda (From Left) That is one of the challenges hampering labor’s rights in Rwanda, but which experts say should be tackled since Rwanda has joined plenty of bodies and signed declarations promoting workers’ rights. It is in this regard that the Ministry of Public Service and Labour and the Congress of workers’ fraternity in Rwanda recently partnered to launch a project to promote workers’ rights in Rwanda. Dubbed, “Social dialogue for sustainable development”, the project aims at promoting effective social dialogue and strengthening social protection to enforce the national and international labour standards in Rwanda. Sponsored by the European Union, the three years’ project was initiated by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) which is the Dutch oldest and biggest political foundation that has been in Rwanda since 2018. With a budget of Rwf 770 million, it targets over 45,000 workers in the agriculture, education and mining sectors of Rwanda which comprise 17 percent of the Rwandan workforce. Commenting on the initiative, Faustin Mwambari, the Director General in the Ministry of Public Service and Labour said that social dialogue which is key in this project, is effective to mediate employers and their employees in times of disagreements. “Some circumstances are unexpected, particularly for the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is only social dialogue that we were able to advocate for the rights of workers to maintain their contracts, since there were no laws stipulating their retention,” he recalled. Eric Nzabandora, the President and Chairman of the Rwandan Congress of workers’ fraternity (COTRAF Rwanda). “Through this initiative, we will train public and private workers on their rights, we also plan to increase their capacity building, scale up how they can scale up ICT tools in their operations,” he highlighted some of the project activities. “If we, Rwandan employers, start respecting workers’ rights even the foreign investors will be aware of the rights and embrace them as long as they are employing the Rwandan workforce,” he said. In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Andre Mutsindashyaka, a trade unionist also echoed why labors’ rights in Rwanda are still not respected. “We still have cases where workers are maltreated, paid extremely lower amounts yet they are highly delivering, that is why they need to be briefed on their rights so as to allow their production of work to reflect in their social standards of living too,” he observed. Rwanda is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has signed the ILO Global Declaration on the future of work in the human-centred agenda, however, trade union membership in the country stands at 5 per cent.