Employers urged to attach value to labour inspectors

Labour Supervisor of Nyarugenge District, Evelyn Nyirahakizimana giving training during the meeting of employee and employer at Kigali City Hall on June 11, 2019. Craish Bahizi

Employers have been cautioned against attaching little value to complaints filed by their employees to labour inspectors at districts, saying that many prefer to send lawyers.

This was said during a meeting held Tuesday held at City Hall in Kigali during which the Labour Inspector in charge of Nyarugenge District, Evelyn Nyirahakuzimana, said that a lot of money and time on the part of the petitioner is lost in such gymnastics.

"In most cases, the lawyers are only interested in accumulating billable hours so the longer the case takes the more money they are making; when they come to us, they are arrogant and uncooperative and issues end up in courts,” she said.

In most cases, she said, the issue is actually a simple one that could have been settled there and then had the employer made time to attend the meeting with the inspectors.

The inspectors are deployed to adjudicate disputes between employers and employees in their respective jurisdictions to avoid unnecessary battles before courts of law.

Some of the major issues that the inspectors receive, according to them came from unfair terms of recruiting, employment and dismissal of employers.

The meeting brought together different representatives of staff and employers in different outlets with large workforce including banks, hotels among other businesses.

Employers were mainly represented by human resources managers.

The meeting was held to purposely breakdown the labour code in Rwanda as many employers were always at loggerheads with their employees, just because they lacked a clearer understanding of the legislation.

Terms and conditions under which an employee can be fired were discussed and many employees present were happy to know for the first time that one can for instance not be fired without prior written warnings unless the offence committed calls for immediate dismissal.

Nyirahakuzimana said that the importance of the written warnings given to the reprimanded employees become useful records to the labour inspectors in case they are called in to intervene where there has been a dispute.

However, Francois Ntakiyimana, the Secretary General of COTRAF, a workers’ union said that there is still a very big issue when it comes to implementing this law however much a lot has been done.

He noted that the fact that there was still a challenge of the lack of a minimum wage that is in tandem with the prevailing standard of living was in itself a major challenge in as regards safeguarding the rights of employees.

The last time Rwanda had a minimum wage was close to 50 years back, which set it at Frw100 which is no longer applicable today.