Trade unions, employers urged to engage in wage talks

Trade unions and employers have been urged to enter into consultative talks regarding a minimum wage for various economic sectors before the approval of a draft law on the issue.

Trade unions and employers have been urged to enter into consultative talks regarding a minimum wage for various economic sectors before the approval of a draft law on the issue.

Paul Ruzindana, a legal officer at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, said the process had been dragged following the failure of a Tanzanian firm to conduct a survey that would lead to the establishment of a minimum wage rate.

Ruzindana was speaking at a news briefing at the end of a weeklong training on labour rights organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), in partnership with Rwanda Journalists Association (ARJ), which concluded last week in Bugesera District.

Prior to the setting of the rate, he said, there was no prohibition to the players involved engaging in consultative talks to fix agreeable minimum rates that they would use before the approval of the draft law.

“We have no problem as long as employees and employers agree on a rate before the government comes up with a minimum wage. The rate provided by the government will override their agreement once approved,” Ruzindana said.

All set for cabinet approval

During the Labour Day, this year,  the Minister for Public Service and Labour, Anastase Murekezi, pledged that a minimum wage would be set by the end of the year as all that was remaining was a cabinet approval.

Jowe Kabibi Kacyira, the legal officer at Central Trade Union of Workers of Rwanda (Cestra), said following the survey’s delay, the trade union, together with Labour Congress and the Brotherhood-Rwanda (Cotraf) had conducted their own independent survey that reflected the cost of living.

“We carried out a survey in various economic sectors and found out that the lowest paid employee in Kigali should earn a minimum daily wage of Rwf2,000 up from the current Rwf100  due to the high cost of living,” Kacyira said.

Kacyira said they have been and will continue to engage the government through the ministry of labour to set a minimum wage to ensure suitable standards of living for workers.  

Earlier this year, the International Labour Organisation asked the government to accelerate the process of determining the new wage rates.

Rwanda being a member of ILO, ratified the minimum wage-fixing convention in 1962, but the minimum wage has not been revised since 1974 when it was set at Rwf100 a day.

Private Sector Federation monitoring and evaluation manager Leon Pierre Rusanganwa said they were facilitating wage negotiations between professional associations and employers pending the approval of the new law on wage rates.  

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