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The Government of Rwanda Urged to Accelerate Minimum Wage Establishment

The rising cost of living and stagnant wages are major issues in Rwanda. The Rwanda Workers’ Trade Union Confederation (CESTRAR) is urging the government to expedite the establishment of a minimum wage as per the labor law and to consider raising wages generally. Without a minimum wage, many workers, especially in the informal economy, struggle to meet the cost of living.

CESTRAR’s Secretary General, Comrade Africain Biraboneye, emphasized that the unresolved issue of soaring commodity prices is a significant challenge for workers whose salaries remain unchanged. To help workers cope with rising market prices and the economic crisis.

Comrade Biraboneye called for the government to speed up the minimum wage establishment and to consider a general wage increase. He noted the absence of a minimum wage leaves many workers with incomes that do not align with current market prices and fall short of decent living standards.

Biraboneye also suggests raising the taxable income ceiling from Rwf60,000 to at least Rwf100,000 to help low-wage workers manage rising costs. He stressed the need for horizontal promotion for workers in essential services, particularly in medical institutions, where many have not been promoted despite exceptional performance during the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, he highlighted salary disparities among local government executive secretaries, urging equal pay for those performing the same duties, regardless of location.

Safety and Health at the Workplace

This year’s global theme for International Labour Day focuses on ensuring workplace safety and health amidst climate change. CESTRAR calls on the government, employers, and workers to protect workplaces and urges strict measures in the mining sector to safeguard worker health, as many continue to face hazardous conditions.

Over 80% of New Jobs Created for Young People

Despite the rising cost of living, significant progress has been made in job creation for the youth. As Rwanda marks Labour Day on May 1, 2024, under the national theme “30 years: Fostering Youth Led Employment,” CESTRAR highlights achievements in the past 30 years, particularly in youth and women’s access to self-employment. Over 80% of new jobs created annually were for young people, a milestone to be proud of.

Biraboneye noted the increasing attention to career development and trades, contributing significantly to Rwanda’s labor market framework. He commended the government’s focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), which has increased youth participation. However, he pointed out that many TVET institutions lack resources and equipment for quality skills training, calling for on-job learning and skills upgrading programs across all labor sectors.

He also urges authorities to ensure widespread, affordable technology infrastructure to enhance productivity. On May 1, discussions will focus on the potential of digital jobs for youth employment, and a four-year project to provide decent jobs and skills for youth in Rwanda’s digital economy is expected to be launched.

CESTRAR recommends the Private Sector Federation of Rwanda (PSF) for establishing the Imanzi Business Institute (IBI), a national training center that provides local training aligned with labor market demands.

Rene Anthere RWANYANGE

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