Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2017, 11:48 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Rwanda

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Rwanda, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 20 October 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

Employers have tried at least twice, to break-up new trade unions by not renewing the contracts of trade union activists or by mass dismissals of new trade union members. Free and voluntary bargaining is not guaranteed and the right to strike is hampered by overly complex procedures


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.


Background: In August, President Paul Kagame was re-elected with 93% of the votes following an electoral campaign marred by grenade attacks in the capital, repression of the political opposition and increasing attacks on the freedom of expression. Even though work continued to develop the country's economy, promises for democratic reform have still not been fulfilled.

Mass dismissals in the tobacco sector: On 22 January, 161 members of the Premier Tobacco Company (PTC) trade union were dismissed, the majority of which were women. According to the Rwandan Congrès du Travail et de la Fraternité (COTRAF), this was a decision designed to "break" this new affiliate who had two days earlier completed very difficult negotiations to ensure that all workers would be covered by social security. The employer falsely claimed that these were seasonal workers even though many of them had worked at the PTC continuously for several years. Despite a new agreement on 26 January, the employees have not been reinstated. During the year, the COTRAF called in vain for mediation by the National Labour Council and the Ministry for Labour.

Contracts not renewed in the brewing sector: On 2 March, Group Environnement Service, a subcontractor of the brewing and soft drinks company, Bralirwa did not renew the contracts of 18 trade union activists from the Rwandan Congrès du Travail et de la Fraternité (COTRAF). Appeals to the Bralirwa management and the Labour Ministry had absolutely no effect.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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