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Interview: Rwanda Labour Minister Says Minimum Wage Under Review

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Graduates in Rwanda are rated the most unemployed people yet 146,000 off farm jobs have been annually created across the country. The battle to push white-collar job seekers to the countryside to find jobs has yielded no results so far. At the same time, labourers in urban areas and in the countryside are pushing the government to revise the law to increase the minimum wage from Rwf 100 set in the 70s to at least above Rwf400.

 As Rwanda joins the rest of the world to celebrate Labour day, the two concerns are some of the subjects for the country to ponder. The Minister of Public Service and Labour Judith Uwizeye takes us through some of the discussions going as well as the details of the celebration today. 

What are the plans for this year’s Labour Day celebration?

Min Uwizeye: It shall be celebrated at the national level at Kigali Special Economic Zone.

How are celebrations meant to take place?

Min Uwizeye: In every institution in the afternoon, workers and employers shall talk about their achievements and challenges. At Kigali Special Economic Zone, the Guest of honour is Rt Honourable the Prime Minister. There shall be speeches of government officials, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) and Trade Unions. Trophies for the 2017 Labor Day tournament shall be delivered and journalists that took interest in writing or reporting about labour news will be awarded.

What is the theme and how do both the private sector and public sector fit in?

Min Uwizeye: The theme is: “Promote Employment and Sustain Good Governance Achievements, for Inclusive Development”. The meaning of the theme and the tripartite participation is that good governance allows inclusive development where government, employers and workers are all contributing to the development of our country in mutual understanding.

What are the current labour dynamics that define our economy; i) politically ii) socially and iii) economically?

Min Uwizeye: Our labor market is growing because of the efforts of the government to attract investors and promote private sector. The employable skills are being given to our youth and they are being facilitated to get start up tool kits and capital.

Are there any efforts to increase the current minimum wage? What are they? 

Min Uwizeye: We are in the process of reviewing the labor law and the minimum wage is part of what we are reviewing. It is a huge and sensitive law, and that is why it is taking time. We have already received the contribution from Trade Unions and employers associations, and now we are the government level (Current Policy is HERE).

What are major challenges we face in our labour market today and what are the causes? 

Min Uwizeye: Challenges are mainly two, among the others: Skills mismatch with the labor market demands and the small labour market. Remedies: We have heavily invested in Technical and Vocational Training Schools and they are facilitating in all levels our private sector to growth. That is what we are doing.

What best practices do we have in our labour market?

Min Uwizeye: The best practices we have are contained in our National Employment Program. You can visit our website for many details. (Full NEP Program is HERE)

What’s are the current unemployment levels? Any specific categories? 

Min Uwizeye: The current unemployment rate is 2% nationally. For NISR current report, click HERE). With 7% in urban areas and 15% for graduates.

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