KIGALI - Workers at UTEXRWA, a local textile firm, yesterday morning downed their tools over alleged poor working conditions.
Over 500 workers went on strike citing lack of communication with the management which is led by Trivedi Deepak who has been at the helm for less than three months.
“We don’t have a platform to air out our grievances,” shouted a group of angry workers after discovering the presence of journalists at the factory premises.
Speaking to The New Times, Joseph Habumuremyi, explained that there have been issues that management has refused to address over time, prompting them to go on strike.
Denial of annual leave and non-payment of overtime, were cited as the key issues that led to the strike. Other issues mentioned, include, poor working conditions and low salaries.
The minimum salary at the factory is Rwf15,800 a month.
“Anyone who tries to raise their voice here is dismissed,” said another worker giving the example of five colleagues who were recently sacked when they decided to approach the management to table their grievances.
“We are paid very little and the conditions in which we work are hazardous to our health,” said one elderly woman.
She added that they were previously entitled to drinking milk to help minimize the chances of contacting diseases from the chemicals. But when the new director came, everything was scrapped.
When The New Times visited the factory, police had deployed. According to the spokesperson, Supt Theos Badege, the Police was present to ensure calm.
Officials from Gasabo District were also at the factory to play the role of mediators.
According to the General Secretary of the Congress of Labour Fraternity in Rwanda (COTRAF), Francois Ntakiyimana, employees at UTEXRWA are denied the right to give their views.
“Article 120 of the Labour Code grants workers, anywhere in the country, the right to air out their views concerning their work, which is visibly lacking here,” said Ntakiyimana.
He added that the congress is going to appoint a commission to investigate the employees complaints.
When approached, the company director declined to comment on the issue and said that he would give the management’s side on Wednesday.