Population: 10,000,000
Capital: Kigali
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The two national trade union centres deplored the shortcomings of social dialogue, particularly the way the authorities overlooked several of their demands during work on the reform of the labour code. Free collective bargaining is not guaranteed, and the right to strike is hampered by lengthy procedures.

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.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: In its report "Doing Business 2010", the World Bank ranks Rwanda as "top reformer" thanks to the number and impact of the reforms implemented between June 2008 and May 2009 to create a more business-friendly environment.

Trade unions not consulted enough: The Rwandan Workers' Trade Union Centre (CESTRAR) and the Fraternity and Labour Congress of Rwanda (COTRAF), the two national centres affiliated to the ITUC, criticised the new version of the labour code adopted on 27 May. Despite their protests, labour legislation was amended to make it more flexible and more favourable to investors. CESTRAR can clearly see the influence of the World Bank, whose annual report "Doing Business", heavily criticised by the international trade union movement for discouraging countries from adopting social protection programmes, congratulates Rwanda for its reforms because "employers are no longer required to consult beforehand [about job cuts] with the employees' representatives or notify the labor inspector". Despite some progress, such as the establishment of the National Labour Council, the trade unions were rarely consulted during the preparation of draft legislation and were very poorly represented on social security management structures.

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