June 1, 2023

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Employment Income Tax withholding, Establishment of the Minimum wage, Assessment of Prior Learning in Mining Sector, Celebration of Mining Day: Exclusive Interview with Eng. Andre Mutsindashyaka

Mining Sector is one of the sectors with the most workers that received less than Rwf 60,000 as a monthly employment income

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

The government of Rwanda has removed the tax on the employment income that does not exceed Rwf 60,000. The Law No. 027/ 2022 dated 20/10/2022 establishes a Tax withholding on employment income referred to in Article 15. READ THE LAW HERE

In an exclusive interview with the Secretary General of the Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union (REWU), Eng. Andre Mutsindashyaka pointed out some of the benefits that could follow the removal of the tax and returned to the establishment of the minimum wage that has not yet been established and also highlights the current situation of labor in Rwanda’s mining and quarrying Industry.

The interview also touched on some of the activities planned for the celebration of International Mining Day, which is planned for next month.

Full Interview:

REWU is a Rwandan trade union that often raises its voice on labor issues, especially on the establishment of the Minimum Wage in the mining industry. Before we get to the actual point, can you tell how far the dialogues on the minimum wage is?  

Currently, regarding the establishment of the minimum wage, we are still waiting for the Ministry of labor’s decision on this issue. Waiting for the establishment of the minimum wage, the  Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union (REWU) has started consultations and dialogues with mining employers in order to jointly review the minimum wage in mining sector, especially and  in particular for this industry, the minimum wage will solve the problem of a mining workers who work tirelessly but does not get paid because of the fact that they haven’t managed to get the production while he/she has done a great job and traced the way to production.

Once the minimum wage is established, all workers will be assured of the minimum payment and those who join this profession will increase in number, production will also increase and mining will play an important role in reducing unemployment rate due to the creation of new jobs that will immediately arise.

The government of Rwanda has enacted a law that removes the tax on the employment income that does not exceed Rwf 60,000. How does REWU react to this move?

As REWU, we have received this great news very well, because it added something to the worker’s salary. Assuming that the employee was paid 60,000 Rwf, it means that the tax was equal to (60,000-30,000)x20% = Rwf 6,000 based on the previous law provisions. The amount of the tax will not be deducted from the employee, so it is an additional benefit to the employee as a result of this law. Our government puts the citizens first and we are very proud of it. Another thing I would like to add is that there are some employers who were afraid to pay employees via the Bank account fearing to disclose the monthly salaries as a way of escaping  the PIT (Personal Income Tax ), It is hoped that employees receiving their salary on Bank account especially in that level of Rwf 60,000 will increase because what the taxes on their salaries is no longer an issue. 

What do you think should be done so that employees can reach a level where they feel happy and safe?

For an employee to work happily, it is important to have a written employment contract; he/she is paid a salary that helps him/her get the basics to live, support his family, the salary is in line with the prices in the market; have social security for retirement and occupational illness; his/her rights at work are respected, and he/she works without being harassed at work; he/she is given the tools to work so that he/she can produce the right product;

You find it sad that an employee works for a certain company, which provides its services and gets benefits arising from the employees hard work, but the employer does not think of raising the salary of the employees who make his/her company build a reputation and make strong income, thanks to the employees dedication. There are some employers who are depriving their employees of their salary for no reason, that is not right, such employers should change their employment conditions and consider the role of employees in the company’s growth.

Mutsindashyaka Andre, the Secretary General of Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union (REWU)

As long as employers value their employees and discuss the performance of their company, there is no doubt that both the employer and the employee will work together happily and everyone will achieve their own interests without anyone compromising the other. That’s what we want to happen in all companies, the culture of dialogue between the employee and the employer should be strengthened.

How is the situation in the Mining Sector?

In mining, labor issues still exist. According to a recent study by Transparency International Rwanda, 79% of miners do not have a written employment contract, the miner works the whole day but is not paid because he has not reached the precious stones. While such happens on human-being, the machines that do what he does are paid for! It is very astonishing. Another problem is that pension security and occupational disease are still low, etc… However, positive changes are being achieved because the authorities have stepped up both in monitoring and campaigning. Now employers are beginning to understand that the employee should be given a written employment contract, should be provided with a pension, should be paid at the bank, have the right to be a member of the trade union, and illegal dismissals are also decreasing.

We are also confident that in the near future, in the field of mining REWU Trade Union together with the employers and their association (Rwanda Mining Association) we will be able to reach a general agreement of negotiated minimum wage. Now the REWU Trade Union, together with its partner FES – Rwanda, is preparing to conduct research aimed at helping in these discussions.

Recently, REWU in collaboration with other stakeholders conducted assessment on the Prior Learning of Mining Workers. Tell us about the assessment and what next?

Of course, as we have been advocating for workers who work in the mines across the country, we have seen also that they do it well and they have experience but they don’t have education skills in mining.  However, most of them have got knowledge and skills through their work experience. Through the program called “Recognition of Prior Learning”; REWU in collaboration with Rwanda TVET Board (RTB), Labor Ministry and Rwanda Mines, Petroleum And Gas Board (RMB), conducted the assessment in 10 mining companies and now there are 200 workers who will receive certificates from Rwanda TVET Board (RTB). The ceremony to issue these certificates is scheduled for the week dedicated to mining, which will take place at the beginning of next month.

This is an ongoing assessment until all the miners will have documents confirming their knowledge in mining, so it will make the mining profession more valuable as the precious stones they dig are valuable. From the informal sector to become formal employees; and from that, working in the mining industry will be desired by many due to the high standard of living that those who work in it will have.

We are preparing to celebrate Mining Day. What activities does REWU plan for the occasion?

As I have already said, we expect that during the week dedicated to mining, Recognition of Prior Learning certificates will be given to 200 miners who have been assessed and found to be worthy of receiving them; We will carry out a campaign to encourage women to participate in the mining profession, we will continue the campaign for worker’s rights, and we will also collaborate with RMB and other partners in various programs organized to celebrate the International Mining Day.

Ends

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