Rwanda: Protracted Multibillion Battle Between Government, Trade Union Nears End

24 September 2019

The Energy, Water, and Sanitation Workers Union has said that a good step was made last week in an attempt to end a protracted feud between WASAC and REG on the one hand, and former employees who accuse the statutory agencies of 'wrongful' dismissal.

The trade union, SYPELGAZ, says it had been frustrated by the lack of progress in the dispute.

Yesterday, Jordi-Michel Musoni, the union's president of SYPELGAZ, said "a good step" was made last week.

The case concerns more than 1,600 workers - 928 from REG and 818 from Wasac - and their families.

"Last Thursday and Friday REG received former workers for checking the amount and bank details. It continues this week because some [names] were missing on the list, and others didn't agree on the amount and refused to sign," Musoni said.

"It is a good step and we wait to see when payment will be effective. If they are flexible to listen and address complaints, it will be fine. I think when the signing is done, payment would follow."

In April 2017, the trade union decided to take matters to court after having, it said, exhausted all other possible avenues.

In May last year, the Ministry of Infrastructure, along with REG and WASAC officials, met the affected former workers of EWSA and committed to solving their claims within two months. The parties had agreed that no fresh cases would be filed in courts in order to forge an amicable solution.

For REG alone, more than Rwf5 billion is expected to be paid to former employees.

Mid last year, even though there was accord on halting the process of suing, the cases already in court continued.

A very serious problem, according to Musoni, is that some workers won in court and are not yet paid since last year, despite promises given by REG.

"But we still insist that they close with the court cases because there is nothing we are waiting for apart for payment. The WASAC side is somehow quite," Musoni added.

In September last year, the Ministry of Justice was to give a legal opinion on the way forward over the longstanding feud.

Justice Minister and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, said: "I am just hoping that justice is done and our colleagues in the institutions that are concerned will comply with the [court] judgment in good time."

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