Rwanda workers union has called on the government to increase minimum wage employers pay their staff, as the country joined the rest of the world to celebrate International Labour Day.
Central Trade Union of Workers of Rwanda (CESTRAR), Rwanda's biggest Trade Union made the demand on behalf of employees including raising the minimum wage, paying for over time and paying salaries that commensurate with market prices.
Speaking to reporters during Labour Day celebrations in the Rwanda capital Kigali on Sunday, CESTRAR general-secretary Eric Manzi said workers were being exploited in the face of high living cost in the country.
"The existing legislation on minimum wage that was enacted 42 years ago is out-dated and exposes workers to exploitation by their employers and poor working conditions," he added.
The most well-known but defunct minimum wage in Rwanda was enacted in 1974 labour law, which stipulated that the least paid worker should earn 0.134 U.S. dollars a day, and CESTRAR says government should come out strongly to protect its labour force from what they term as exploitation.
Manzi argued that their demand is based on the increasing market prices and cost of living especially in Kigali which makes hard for workers to sustain their livelihoods.
However Rwanda's 2009 Labour Law offers no minimum wage despite the government ratifying 28 international labour conventions and a range of national employment Acts.
Article 77 of the 2009 labour law determines that salaries and other benefits should depend on the rate of the work done, leaving many casual labourers at the mercy of their bosses.
According to Judith Uwizeye, Rwanda minister of labour, the government is considering revising a minimum wage for workers after collective consultations with the relevant organs.
"Revising minimum wage requires analysing employment trends, cost of living, and wage trends by profession and geographical regions. The consultations with other stakeholders would ensure the outcome is fair to all parties," said Uwizeye.