Today, the world marks International Labour Day, also known as Workers’ Day or May Day in some places. As such, the government has declared tomorrow, May 2, a public holiday since the day has fallen on a weekend – to allow workers and employers to take time off to reflect on the state of their work, working conditions, productivity, among other work-related issues.
In Rwanda, this year’s event was preceded by a weeklong of activities aimed at rallying the population to partake in efforts geared at harnessing skills that respond to labour market needs, improving output, creating a healthy work environment, and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, among others.
The ‘Labour Week’ campaign also coincided with President Paul Kagame’s latest routine outreach visit, this time visiting a couple of districts in the Eastern Province where he urged residents to further roll up their sleeves and work harder to improve their welfare and impact the country’s development.
This country’s economic agenda is anchored on human capital with view to ultimately making Rwanda a knowledge-based economy. With global economic shocks continuously resulting in unpredictable prices for agricultural exports, minerals and petroleum products on the international market, in addition to other challenges associated with emerging realities like global warming, it is imperative that countries invest more in such sectors as services and industries to reach their potential.
But these sectors cannot grow without a skilled workforce. That’s why it’s very important that education systems are increasingly aligned with the ever-changing demands of the labour market to avoid skills mismatch.
It is our hope that relevant public and private actors will continue to do their best to ensure that our training institutions churn out graduates that will become an asset, rather than a liability, to the country.
And, as the world celebrates the Labour Day 2016, it’s critical that both employers and employees take time to reflect on and address the challenges that exist in their respective workplace, including lack of employment contracts, non-remittance of social security contributions, working overtime without compensation, unhealthy work environments, gender stereotypes, sex corruption, among others.
Similarly, employees need to assess their own inputs in their respective workplace with view to making a fair contribution toward the growth of their respective organizations.
At the national level, it’s critical that pending issues such as the need for a new minimum wage, maternity leave processes and pension for Rwandans who worked in Burundi are handled expeditiously and in the best way possible.
Happy Labour Day!