RWAMAGANA — The Specialised Chamber of the High Court in Rwamagana presided over by its vice President, Odette Murara, on Friday ordered the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to pay a fine of Rwf.52 million to seven workers who were reportedly unlawfully dismissed from their jobs in 2006.
The complainants Elizeri Karamage, Joel Munyaneza, Vianney Kambanda, Jean Damascene Rutagungira, Fiacre Mbanzarugamba, Oscar Ndamage, Firmin Butare, had worked for the NGO for a period ranging from nine to 12 years, as security guards at the LWF offices in Ngoma district.
Through their lawyer, Munyeshema Shwaibu Napoleon, they argued that in sacking them the employer had violated their rights.
They asked the court to order LWF to pay them for the public holidays and annual leave they spent working, and damages incurred in the case.
The termination letters seen by The New Times were signed by the head of LWF in Rwanda, Helmin Nicolaisen. It stated that some employees had to lose their jobs because of reforms.
The LWF lawyer Olivier Kiroha first objected to the complainants request but he was not successful.
They were given 30 days within which to appeal the verdict or will be obligated to pay the fine.
According to the ruling, the complainants will be paid their compensation depending on the period spent on work before the time of their dismissal.
The case was first lodged in Kibungo Court of High Instance in 2006 and this court ruled in favour of the LWF.
The complainants were however not contented with the verdict, and appealed.
After the latest ruling, Vianny Kambanda who had worked for the NGO for 12 years said he was pleased in with the verdict.
He said had worked for the organisation for long but, ‘got disappointed when they fired me without considering my rights and efforts I had rendered.’
“For now, we ask them to pay us without disturbing us again; it is time wasting and with time the money loses value. We have not even got other forms of employment yet we have family responsibilities,” Kambanda said.
Abdon Nkotanyi, the General Secretary of Workers’ Union in the area said: “I am happy for this legal redress unfolding this way and I appeal to employers to respect their workers’ rights.”
He asserted that it is a lesson to be learnt by all employers because there are laws to defend workers.
“What we want is to make them (employers and workers) reach an understanding because we are there to defend workers whenever their rights are violated,” Nkotanyi added.