Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 November 2017, 08:57 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Rwanda

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Rwanda, 11 June 2009, available at: [accessed 22 November 2017]
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: 10,000,000
Capital: Kigali
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Generally speaking, the virtually non-existent social dialogue situation of a few years back has improved, however anti-union harassment has continued.

Trade union rights in law

All workers, including public sector employees, apart from civil servants and state officials, have the right to form and join trade unions. Under the 2002 Labour Code, drawn up with technical support from the ILO, agricultural workers now have the right to organise. This Code also allows foreign workers to be elected to trade union office after they have lived in the country for at least five years, provided non-nationals do not exceed one third of the union's officers.

Unions must register with the Ministry of Justice for official recognition, but this is just a formality.

The right to collective bargaining is recognised. A National Labour Council (Conseil National du Travail) was established by presidential decree on 2 November 2005.

Right to strike: The Labour Code restricts the right to strike. Authorisation for strikes is subject to the compulsory intervention of a Mediation Committee, however the implementing provisions to establish that committee have still not been established. Hence the legal vacuum has prevented the real exercise of this right since 2002.

The list of so-called "essential services", in which strikes are not allowed, is excessively long. The Rwandan government has promised to amend its Code to take into account criticisms regarding the organising rights of civil servants and the right to strike in essential services.

Exercising the right to strike is sometimes wrongly confused with "disturbing public order", an offence that is severely punished by law and seriously impedes unions' ability to exercise this right.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Since the first real trade union elections in 2007, the national union centre Centrale des Syndicats des travailleurs du Rwanda (CESTRAR) has noted a definite improvement in the social climate. Some collective bargaining that began a long time ago was concluded and better cooperation with the Ministry of Labour was reported. Nevertheless, CESTRAR continued to denounce the continuing harassment of trade unionists, who have been threatened and sometimes dismissed, either unfairly or for the supposed reasons of "removal" of a particular post or "staff reductions".

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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