The New Times (Kigali)

10 December 2012

Rwanda: Kinazi Cassava Factory Employees Decry Poor Working Conditions

Workers at Kinazi Cassava Factory, located in Ruhango District, Southern Province, have decried poor working conditions at the firm characterised by violation of labour law, long working hours, and low wages.

The factory's 42 employees work in various sections including peeling, washing, processing and packing.

They claim to be paid Rwf1,200 per day but are uncompensated for extra hours which they insist contravenes the labour laws.

"Sometimes, we work for 11, 13 or even 15 hours. Sometimes the management gives us two kilogrammes of cassava flour as our payment to calm us down," alleged one of the workers on condition of anonymity.

They further claim that they are paid cash rather than through banks, which puts them at a disadvantage when it gets to issues like accessing loans.

Another employee pointed out that workers are picked at random hours whenever work is available.

"We were often asked to write down our complaints but there is no feed-back as management created a buffer between us and the managing director," said another worker.

Reacting to the complaints, the managing director of the factory, Robert Runazi, denied reports that his plant works in shifts.

He said this had only happened for three days to meet market demand.

He said his employees normally work for eight hours per day, adding that they arbitrarily pick those to work at any given day.

"According to the available work, we ask the security guards at the gate to randomly make a list of the workers to come back after the break and they inform everybody who is meant to report," he explained.

"All I know is that some of these workers come back for work despite being given prior information that there is no work for them."

He noted that the employees must spend a three month probation period before they earn the right to be paid via banks.

Runazi said he would follow up on all the complaints to ascertain instances on alleged injustice. He added that it is the right of every employee to be paid for any extra hour worked.

According to Abdon Faustin Nkotanyi, the secretary general of SENJOUSMELI, a Kigali based workers body, "any employee exceeding 45 hours at work has to be paid for every additional hour worked. Moreover, any staff has the right to being paid at a bank".

Kinazi Cassava Factory, financed by the Rwanda Development Bank was inaugurated in April of 2012 by President Paul Kagame to add value to cassava, create a wider market and more jobs.

According to a source, the plant initially produced 20 tonnes of flour daily, which has gone up to 50 tonnes.

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