Casual labourers, including those who work on construction sites and in factories, have appealed to employers to improve their working conditions. They were speaking at belated celebrations to mark Decent Work Day on Thursday in Kicukiro, Kigali. The day is celebrated internationally on October 7.
The celebrations were organised by workers union, the Labour Congress and the Brotherhood-Rwanda, better known by its French acronym Contraf. The union has about 20,000 members, most of whom casual laborers. Among the complaints raised by the workers are meager wages, and lack of medical insurance, contracts and protective gear.
"We are exposed to high risks since we are ever in machines yet we earn peanuts. If you work for five years in a company but your salary can't enable you to get a loan from a bank what is the use of that salary?" one man wondered.
The workers, however, commended Cotraf for its support in all these circumstances, saying some cases of workers' mistreatment were solved thanks to its advocacy. The president of Cotraf, Dominique Bicamumpaka, said; "From 2009 to 2012, complains from casual workers' increased to 1,851 but luckily, most of them have since been solved. Employers compensated workers to the tune of Rwf91 million," he said.
Francois Ntakiyimana, from the union urged employers to ensure appropriate working conditions for their employees since they play a big role in their running of the organisations. "Every worker has rights and duties so they should be paid well and be protected. And also workers have to do a good job," he said.
Trade unions are pushing for the daily minimum wage of a causal worker at the village level be set at Rwf1,500, and in the City of Kigali at Rwf 2,000. Employers insist that wages should be determined by market forces.