Rwanda: Successful collaboration between CESTRAR and FGTB

The FGTB (General Labour Federation of Belgium) proves that trade unions are an effective development actor in Rwanda, Peru and elsewhere. Thanks to the support given by the FGTB in Brussels to the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP) and by the Centrale Générale FGTB to the Federation of Construction Workers of Peru (FTCCP), Peru passed a law on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in 2011.

In Rwanda, the FGTB’s partner, the majority union CESTRAR (Confederation of Trade Unions of Rwanda), has also just scored three impressive trade union victories: the country’s first collective bargaining agreement, the passing of a decree implementing the OHS law, and finally the training of the first 30 labour inspectors, one for each district.

Since 2007, CESTRAR, with the support of the FGTB, has been running a project co-financed by the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGD) aimed at improving the occupational health and safety conditions of workers in two sectors: tea and construction. Part of the project focused on lobbying members of parliament to pass the OHS law. The ministerial decree implementing the OHS law was finally approved by the Council of Ministers on 9 February.

Early this year, following intense negotiations, the two trade union confederations CESTRAR and COTRAF (Congress of Labour and Fraternity) and the management of Sorwathé signed the first collective bargaining agreement in the country’s history, in the presence of the Minister of Labour. The entirely new CBA increases maternity leave, raises wages by 10% and provides better protection for shop stewards, among other things.

As part of the project, CESTRAR has also just trained the first labour inspectors on OHS standards and used the opportunity to create a framework for collaboration and exchange between these inspectors and the shop stewards at project sites, who were also invited to the training.

Article provided by Thierry Aerts, FGTB.