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Workers’ trade unions propose scheme to address job losses

Rwanda Workers’ Trade Unions Confederation is assessing the possibility of establishing a ‘Job Loss and Unemployment Benefit Scheme’ that will be providing direct support to employees who lose their jobs.

The proposal is founded on the lessons learnt from the effects of Covid-19 impact that left many people unemployed.

 

The assessment that was carried out on 4, 150 establishments by the Ministry of Public Service and Labour between March and April revealed that only 2, 450 establishments continued to operate during lockdown while 1, 700 establishments temporarily suspended operations.

 

The study showed that these establishments had 94,509 employees and 54, 609 of them remained fully salaried as 1, 143 employees were put into partially salaried positions.

 

It indicated that there were 38, 757 employees who lost their full salaries.

Africain Biraboneye, the General Secretary of Trade unions Confederation said that this situation shows that despite the efforts made by the government, employers and trade unions, the labour market has been severely affected by lack of productivity and incomes.

Due to covid-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate picked the highest point in the history of Rwanda since 2016, he said.

He noted that due to the impact, many people who lost jobs had many unmet needs and despite food relief to the victims from government and other partners, other needs were not satisfied.

“Therefore by promoting saving culture, we are working with trade unions to assess the possibility of establishing a job loss and or unemployment benefit scheme,” he said.

Biraboneye said that the fund could be contributed voluntarily by those in employment ‘to save for the future loss of job’.

“This is expected to create security for future unemployment and increase socio-economic relevance of unions to their workers,” he said.

He said the new scheme is relevant considering that Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) has not included a scheme to support employees who lose their jobs before the age of 60 years old.

“Employees who were laid off were not supported by any saving scheme such as RSSB and therefore a job loss benefit scheme is needed,” he said.

Issue of employment contracts

He added that Trade Unions, the Ministry of Labour and Private Sector Federation should enhance compliance with written employment contracts.

“This is one of tools to enhance access to finance and save for the future,” he added.

The government’s Economic Recovery Fund, he said, should protect employment and provide new employment opportunities.

Leon Pierre Musanganwa, the programme coordinator at the Private Sector Federation (PSF) said that they are working with trade unions and Labour Ministry to ensure employers provide written employment contracts and that they set up saving schemes in their companies.

There are currently 185,700 members in trade unions.

Employers, employees speak out

Susan Mukanyandwi, a worker at UTEXRWA said that some workers were laid off while others remained at work but partially salaried.

“There is need to set up a platform for saving among employees,” she said.

She urged employers to improve welfare of workers by also providing written employment contracts.

Arthur Murara, the General Manager at Pure Pro Rwanda said that he lost more than a half of workers due to Covid-19 impact.

“I had 27 workers but only 11 workers remained. 18 of these had written contracts but others had no contracts and these are the most that were laid off. Some companies do not provide written employment contracts because there is promising future and future assurance of their companies. But written contracts should be provided,” he said.

He welcomed the proposed scheme to benefit job losers and unemployed persons.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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