SINCE the 1980s, Rwanda’s minimum wage has been a paltry Rwf100 (a day) despite the increase in the cost of living over the last three decades. However, efforts to review the minimum wage have also dragged on for over five years. The delays have over time, perpetuated exploitation of employees and made it difficult to negotiate salaries.
Although, there is good will to review the minimum wage, the process is not moving fast enough and it’s about time that the concerned authorities moved faster to implement a minimum wage that reflects the realities of today’s cost of living.
In an attempt to fast track the process, four trade unions have prepared a position paper for policy input regarding minimum wage. The traders union is also lobbying the concerned government authorities and ministries to treat the issue as a matter of urgency.
The review would not only be ideal for employees, but also would boost purchasing power of people who will in-turn boost the performance of the economy through tax returns and consumption.
Although, the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, has re-assured that the minimum wage was a work in progress, more needs to be done to expedite the process.
This should start with the passing of a new labour law and subsequently a ministerial order.
At the moment, payments to workers is often based on negotiations, which leaves room for exploitation as there is no relevant base of minimum wage.
If wide consultations are carried out, it will be easier to come up with an appropriate minimum wage law.
Also, Rwanda is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has ratified the convention on minimum wage. The convention provides that the minimum wage takes into account, the cost of living and provides that economic factors be taken into account.