Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 16:17 GMT

2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Rwanda

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Rwanda, 6 June 2012, available at: [accessed 19 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 10,624,000
Capital: Kigali

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Dismissals: 15

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher


Trade unions have very little room for manoeuvre. The authorities are hostile to any form of protest, and exercising the right to strike is practically impossible. Fifteen trade unionists were dismissed during 2011.


Rwanda has the fourth most competitive economy in Africa. Economic growth was 8.8% and exports grew by 31% in relation to 2010. In the area of human rights, however, its score leaves much to be desired: the opposition, the press and civil society are muzzled.

Trade union rights in law

Problematic areas remain in the labour law despite the adoption of a new Labour Code in May 2009. While the Code and the Constitution guarantee freedom of association, there are no provisions that secure trade union rights in the public sector. In addition, to be recognised as the most representative organisation, a union must allow the labour administration to check the register of its members and property, which could allow for government interference.

Furthermore, a collective agreement shall be negotiated within a joint committee convened by the Minister of Labour at the request of only one of the parties. All collective labour disputes are also subject to mandatory conciliation, and are referred to an arbitration committee set up by the National Labour Council if an agreement can not reached.

Strikes are forbidden until all the procedures have been exhausted, which can take more than two months. Finally, the terms and conditions for exercising the right to strike will be determined by a Minister's Order.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

No entry for this country for this year


Eleven workplace representatives dismissed at textile factory: On 14 January, the management at the UTEXWRA textile firm dismissed 32 employees, 11 of whom were trade union representatives, under the pretext of restructuring, but immediately went on to hire other workers to replace them. The trade unionists affiliated to COTRAF had already received threats from the employer after workers had complained about their working conditions to the media and the union had called for collective bargaining. The staff had, for example, denounced the removal of their milk rations to combat chemical poisoning (the factory produces insecticide-treated mosquito nets). On 14 February, the 748 workers went on strike in protest at the dismissals, forcing the management to negotiate with COTRAF over better working conditions and the reinstatement of the workers dismissed.

Four trade unionists dismissed at ECOBANK: On 19 May, ECOBANK-Rwanda dismissed 25 workers, including four trade union representatives, such as Jacqueline Kanazayire, a member of the National Labour Council. Whilst there is no irrefutable evidence that the employer wanted to get rid of these four trade unionists, CESTRAR denounced this attack on trade union rights.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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