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Bugesera steel company given one month to address workers' complaints

Imana Steel Rwanda, a steel manufacturing company in Gashora sector, Bugesera District is on the spot over occupational safety.
Imana Steel workers say they lack special gear for protection during work. (F. Byumvuhore)
Imana Steel workers say they lack special gear for protection during work. (F. Byumvuhore)

Imana Steel Rwanda, a steel manufacturing company in Gashora sector, Bugesera District is on the spot over occupational safety.

The workers exposed the flaws on Tuesday as the Minister of Public Service and Labour, Judith Uwizeye, and other government officials visited the company following numerous complaints.

 

The workers said they were not protected from health hazards.

 

Working under high temperatures without safety equipment, pollution, lack of clean water, toilets, lack of insurance and contracts were some of the burning issues cited.

 

Vincent Iradukunda, a worker, said they were at the risk of contracting respiratory diseases due to lack of safety gear.

“We are not even insured. In case of any injuries of accidents, we struggle on our own. Our employers are not mindful of our health yet we work in a risky environment,” Iradukunda said.

Jazi Musemakweri said they work without contracts and wondered why they are not paid through banks to enable them access loans.

“We are paid cash per day. We do not have work contracts. Whenever anyone talks about the issue he is fired.

At least 50 workers were fired last month for that. We work from 7a.m up to 7 p.m without payment for extra time.

We work like slaves without anyone listening to our grievances…but we expect some changes after the visit of these government officials,” Musemakweri said.

Another worker identified only as Musafiri said they need their rights to be respected.

Briefing journalists after a closed meeting with factory management, Minister Uwizeye, said they had received numerous complaints from the workers.

“We have been receiving reports of lack of protection and security.

Investors and employees have responsibilities. In case of any dispute, they should solve it peacefully. Working in such a factory requires special equipments like gum-boots, helmets among other safety gear. We asked the employer to provide those needs in not more than one month,” Uwizeye said Tuesday.

She cautioned workers against indiscipline by respecting their employers, and reporting any challenge through appropriate channels.

The factory managing director, S.N. Tiwari declined to comment on the allegations.

But Odette Uwamariya, the Eastern Province governor also urged employers to respect worker’s rights and ensure their safety.

“The contribution of industries to national and individual development cannot be underestimated. Therefore, there must be mutual understanding between employers’ and employees,” Uwamariya said.

The factory produces steel bars and other steel products with at least 300 workers.

Imana steel Rwanda is a joint venture between two companies; Metal Cans and Closure Kenya Limited and Sigma group of Companies of India. It started operating in Rwanda in 2013.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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