Rwanda catapults onto ILO governing body
Written by: George Kalisa
Friday, June 30th, 2017, 8:30
Amazing it is though well-deserved. Rwanda mid-June was elected on the International Labour Organization Governing body. Its three year mandate there will expire in 2020. After three decades, the 106th International Labour Conference (ILC) at Geneva on thorough consideration saw it fitting for Rwanda to sit on the governing body.
The Minister of Public Service and Labour Judith Uwizeye at this Conference was overwhelmed by the achievement, which she quickly attributed to President Paul Kagame’s visionary leadership: “I am extremely happy; Rwanda is now a member of the ILO governing body from 2017 up to 2020, thanks to our President H.E. Paul KAGAME for his visionary leadership.” Disclosed Uwizeye after Rwanda‘s election.
Of 253 Rwanda got 228 votes and it represents basically 14 nations that constitute the East African region. They include; Ethiopia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Kenya, Eretria, South Sudan, Sudan, Mauritius, Somalia, Djibouti, Comoros, Seychelles and Uganda. More startling facts on Rwanda and labour.
Rwanda has the least unemployment rate – UNDP
Rwanda’s unemployment rate has clocked the highest ever at 17.1 per cent of the Rwandans of working age up from a record low of 1:00 per cent in 2000. But, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report 2017 says Rwanda has the least unemployment rate in the region compared to Kenya at 39.1 per cent, Tanzania 24.0 per cent, Ethiopian 21.6 per cent and Uganda 18.1 per cent.
It is worth-noting that a big proportion of the rest of Rwandans face disguised unemployment. Much as the nation is reckoned to be one of the easiest places to do business in Africa according to the World Bank Doing Business Report 2015 the slow pace in the country’s economic growth is partly blamed on these two factors.
Rwanda came after Mauritius and South Africa though the same report shows that Rwanda slipped down in 2016 into the 56 place among the low income economies.
Over 70 per cent of Rwanda’s workforce is employed by the agriculture sector. Rwanda’s employment sector constitutes both the service and agriculture sectors. But, this discourse centres mainly on the service sub-sector. It covers education, health, trade, construction and tourism.
Notably, the public sector is the major employer followed by the private sector. The Rwandan workforce includes both skilled and semi-skilled human power. There are many Rwandans today that neither subscribe to the public nor private sectors but earn a living in the informal sector - call them the jua kali.
The Rwandan construction industry that is currently in its heyday has helped to employ a huge number of the lot that belongs to the informal sector.
Rwanda’s working conditions may not differ much from those in most developing economies. Salaries fall short of the living wage. The emoluments they get do not match with the ever skyrocketing cost of living in the east and central African nation reckoned to be on the right track of development.
A teacher at Gahini Secondary school in the Eastern Province who preferred not to be record said the teacher’s salary needs to be doubled if a teacher is to a happy life in the fast growing economy.
“A graduate teacher salary on the government payroll oscillates between Rwf12000 and Rwf200, 000 currently,” he said, “which is still widely seen as peanut by most teachers in public schools given a high cost of living. He said their counterparts in the Primary sub-sector were worse off taking home less than Rwf120, 000according to Celine Ishimwe, who trained as a primary teacher at Gacuba II Teacher Training College four years.
Nursery and Primary teachers’ salary ranges between Rwf44, 000 to Rwf120, 000 with a diploma holder (A1) earning Rwf90, 000 per month. According to the 2015 statistics in the Ministry of education (MINEDUC) the meagre salaries affected lives of 89,649 teachers, 42,005 of them are Primary teachers.
The situation of a public servant is further aggravated by the diminishing purchasing power of the Rwandan franc with some failing to afford the basics of life.
Recently, Faustin Harelimana, the Secretary General of the National Teachers’ Union in Rwanda (SNER) expressed similar fears according to media reports.
The country’s only English daily, The New Times quoted Harelimana as saying they appreciated the laudable initiatives, which had helped bring about improvements in the education sector over the years, such as construction of infrastructure but enhancing teachers’ welfare was a crucial aspect in education development. Rwandan teachers say the government should set Rwf80, 000 as minimum salary.
Interestingly, Rwandan teachers earn the best salaries in the region – a factor that has attracted teachers from the region to stay and work in Rwanda.
There is no single sector in the country that would tell a different and better story. Choosing to join the Rwanda media industry in preference to the education sector is like stealing from Peter to pay Paul.
It goes without saying that the critical state of the civil servants’ welfare affects service delivery in general as it has a great effect on the workers’ morale, efficiency and effectiveness.
Save the growing sense of patriotism and integrity in Rwandans the magnitude of the consequences on service delivery that stem from working conditions that fall short of the minimum standards would have left regrettable scars on the entire economy.
The government, however, has not swept the workers’ problems under the carpet. It pledged to revise the wages upwards in the awaited 2016/17 fiscal year. Besides, the government considers non-monetary initiatives a priority to enhance the welfare of workers. For instance, the government injected Rwf5 billion into the Umwalimu Savings and Credit Cooperative (SACCO) in ending fiscal year and promised to allocate Rwf 1 billion in 2017/18 budget.
One of the initiatives that revive hopes for a huge reduction in unemployment is the commitment by the Rwandan government to create about new 200,000 jobs per annum according to data obtained in the ministry of local government (MINALOC).
High quality service
Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi stressed the correlation between quality service delivery and poverty eradication. He said high quality services also lead to improved productivity in the country. Services contributed 48 per cent to national growth, the premier revealed while officiating at the celebrations to mark the International Labour Day at the Kigali Special Economic Zone.
“Last year, services contributed 48 per cent to the national growth, and this is due to improved services; therefore, I call upon all employees and employers to ensure that they offer better services to their clients,” reiterated PM Murekezi.
Rwandan workers whether in the public or private sectors go any length to improve service delivery. They wear omnipresent and natural smiles at workplaces, and try as much as possible to keep them clean. They are reckoned the most hospitable compared to their counterparts in the region. Customer care has had a bearing on the increase in the number of visitors in the country. No wonder, the tourism industry fetches the largest proportion of foreign exchange in Rwanda. Latest data from RDB says the sector fetched revenue receipts worth USD 304.9 million in 2014.
For instance, whoever visits Rwandan hotels or offices they will live with a lasting impression Rwandan workers create in their clients.
By and large, the Rwandan labour market has registered milestones in the last decade and there are strategic policies in place alongside the political will which assure Rwandans a much better labour market in the near future. Rwandan government stance to improve the working conditions of workers is no longer news and the infrastructural development across all sectors attracts admiration from development partners the main driver at the core of this fast development for Rwanda being the zero tolerance to corruption principle, focused and visionary leadership.