Officials from Rwanda’s trade union have suggested having a special court to address issues of delay in handling this sector’s penal conflicts.
The union leaders were speaking during the 4th general assembly of Rwanda’s biggest trade union, (CESTRAR) that started from December 22, and concluded on December 23, 2017 in Kigali; and the suggestion of fast tracking labour courts was on list of the recommendations.
Eric Manzi, the Secretary-General of Rwanda’s biggest trade union, CESTRAR who was elected to lead for the fourth term said this can work further to fast track delay in solving labour conflicts which are still running slowly.
“They can either establish a special labour court or improve on current ways of judging labour issues, because we have observed delay when it comes to courts in regard with labour conflicts, due to this, we suggest it can be better when they set up significant improvements or establish a special labour court as it is done in our neighbouring countries,” said Manzi.
He further said that if not possible to improve the current court by implicating fast tracking of pending court cases, the need for a special court for workers will serve as better as faster.
Manzi said “This is necessary because even our local prosecutors do not international laws governing labour which Rwanda ratified, despite these ones are not yet put in our laws, but they can assist labour court when solving employment related issued,”
He said that most of the cases show that the court judges a sacked worker the same way as any other one.
Manzi said that the success of labour courts to handle related cases in most countries is driven by the expertise of prosecutors whose skills is oriented in such a particular court section.
He gave an example of the recent court termination of sacked WASAC’s trade union representatives whose judgment and fine payments were the same as for others who were not employees.
“This is not true, because any court in relation with sacking the workers or trade union representatives must be handled in a different way, this is among the cases we have and others are still pending in courts,” Manzi said, adding that the same issue happened to UTEXRWA workers’ representatives.
Manzi said he will try to prevent labour conflicts in his fourth mandate of which he was elected to lead ahead, employing tangible strategies to train trade union representatives in handling labour conflicts before they seek for any other intervention.
“The second thing is to work closer with the ministry of public service and labour (MIFOTRA) to establish the common working scheme in handling labour conflicts through inspection to avoid court intervention, we will also increase advocacy to call up on court to improve on the way they handle cases in relation with employment, by using both the national and international labour laws,” Manzi said.
However, Manzi noted that such cases have reduced as in 2010, CESTRAR received about 450 labour conflicts cases which reduced to 97 in 2017.
According to Alexander Twahirwa the Director of Labour and Administration in MIFOTRA, the need of establishment of a special labour court is nonsense following the labour law of May 2009, which does not plan for a labour court.
He said even most of the labour conflicts are solved with the help of labour inspectors as per statistics from districts’ labour inspection.
“Cases that go in court are very few and they do not require the special labour court, gradually, as the cases are increased, and with the failure of labour inspectors to handle many cases which they will transfer in court, in that case, the ministry in partnership with other government entities especially courts, we will think how to establish a special labour court,” said Twahirwa.
By Elias Hakizimana