The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Teachers Petition Workers Union Over 'Illegal' Dismissal

Three teachers of Ecole Primaire Amizero in Ruhango District have petitioned a workers union, Senjousmel, over what they term as 'illegal dismissal' from work.

The teachers are accused of refusing to supervise students in the dining room during lunch time and tarnishing the school's image which has resulted into dwindling number of students, among other things, according to a report filed at the workers union.

Speaking to The New Times last week, one of the teachers, Emmanuel Kabagamba, said their March 14 dismissal was part of a witchhunt campaign since they had resolved the issues highlighted in the termination letter.

"I was surprised to be dismissed over claims that parents had lost trust in our school and that I was responsible for the drop in the number of students," he said.

But Venuste Habarurema, the school's legal representative, insisted that the trio had been dismissed on genuine grounds.

"These teachers are behind our declining reputation only that they are denying their mistakes," Habarurema said.

Pascal Nsengumuremyi, the inspector of labour in Ruhango, told this paper he was aware of the issue but had advised the affected teachers to refer the case to their staff representatives before taking it to the Inspectorate of labour.

Many cases reported:

Abdon Faustin Nkotanyi, the executive secretary of Senjousmel, said they are trying to find out if the teachers' rights were violated, noting that complaints of illegal dismissal are among the common cases they receive. Nkotanyi disclosed that the union recently received another petition from seven other teachers dismissed from Saint Charles Lwanga Primary School in Nyarugenge District over alleged insubordination and failure to complete syllabi in time.

The trade union has also filed a case involving six teachers from Mweya Primary school in Gisenyi Sector, Rubavu District, who were dismissed without terminal benefits, he said.

Nkotanyi suggested that some schools dismiss teachers unfairly, especially when they demand for their rights.

However, Christine Shamukiga, the legal representative of APACOPE, a private secondary school in Nyarugenge District, said: "Our committees sometimes make mistakes and recruit unqualified people and when we dismiss them, they cry foul."

Ignace Migambi, a Senior Six leaver, was working at this school until March 3, when he was dismissed. He is also complaining that he was illegally dismissed. He had a teaching contract something Shamukiga says was not right.

Java Nkundabakura, the chief labour inspector at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, said his office does not have figures of 'illegal dismissals' but added that since 2011, they have been sensitising institutions to respect the labour law.

"Big institutions are trying but in some small institutions, managers are fond of dismissing their staff on flimsy grounds," Nkundabakura said.

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