The standoff between the management and employees of Nakumatt- Rwanda, the 24-hour chainstore continues with a group of workers now threatening to report their bosses to the Ministry of Labour and Pubic Service for what they call gross abuse of their rights.
According to a group of workers The New Times spoke to, the management has not honoured its promise to increase the salaries among other things, as agreed in August, but instead the managers have resorted to threatening and sacking the workers who raise concerns.
“We are now living in fear as the Management threatens to punish or fire any of us who questions the delay in the implementation of resolutions agreed upon with the top management from the Head office (Nairobi) or even speak to the media,” a worker who preferred anonymity told The New Times.
The workers who had threatened to go on strike on the 23rd of August claim they held discussions with the top management from Nairobi in which it was agreed that the 10 grievances including low pay, lack of medical insurance and others that had been raised over the past 4 months would be addressed immediately hence calling off the strike.
They further claim that with the departure of the manager, Joseph Ndungu, their grievances were put aside, with the new manager, Adan Ramata ,claiming not to be aware of any problems, instead asking the workers to forward their complaints afresh.
The workers consequently threatened to ‘react if nothing is done’ to address their grievances.
“The new manager does not want to listen to our problems but has instead threatened to fire any of us who speaks. They say there are 10 people tagged as ring leaders who will be fired and one individual has been fired already,” Another employee told The New Times.
A letter seen by The New Times signed by Ramata, one of the workers Jean Claude Munyakindi was sacked for what is termed as ‘lack of respect to seniors’ and gross misconduct as well as ‘inciting’.”
Among other issues, the workers claim that they are mistreated and that they are not paid for the extra hours they work and that they also have their salaries deducted heavily even when they are sick, yet they don’t have medical insurance.
Efforts to contact Ramata were futile as he is said to be in Nairobi. However, in an interview with The New Times, Stephen Muthiani, the Deputy Manager and Paul Mutunga, the Chief Accountant of Nakumatt Rwanda vehemently denied the claims of the employees, saying that the workers are just impatient and are ‘pushing’ the company to honour their demands.
“We are really addressing these issues, we know them and we working on them, probably by the beginning of October we will have sorted them out, however they are impatient and don’t want to listen.It is a process we have to follow; we can’t implement these resolutions overnight. That is why the Manager is in Nairobi.” Muthiani said.
“I don’t know where all this comes from, as far as I know, we pay the extra hours they work, we pay for their social security fund (5%), what we are working on now is the medical insurance,” an official said.
They added that the issue of working hours is being streamlined to meet the recent changes in the national working hours from 40 hours to 48 hours a week.
The workers are requesting an increase on their salary citing increasing cost of living.
They allege that their net monthly salary does not reflect the amount of work they do.