Successful Training of REWU Volunteers on Child Protection and Workers Rights

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Preamble

The Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union (REWU) is a union of mining and quarrying workers established in 2014. On one hand, REWU acts as a channel through which workers or union members pass their ideas, problems and aspirations related to work in order to improve their well-being and on another hand has a duty of working with members, community and leaders at all levels to combat any form of child abuse and domestic violence.

There are 4 reasons why REWU was established

  1. Advocacy for Labour Rights

When mining and quarrying was becoming one of the most lucrative activities in our country, the number of workers in the country increased significantly, while a big number of them was deprived their rights to remuneration because they were considered not productive, which in turn had a negative impact on their livelihoods since the rights of the employee were not properly respected,

2.  Promotion of Saving Culture

Within the same framework, those who were to be paid, had to receive their salaries in hands, which in return results into failure to save and based on such circumstances, REWU started mobilization campaign on developing saving culture among the industry workers while at the same time sensitizing employers to pay salaries via the financial institutions.

3. Promotion of Rights of Women and Children in Mining and Quarrying Industry

Since the Mining guidelines prohibited children from reaching mines and quarries, it was disadvantageous to pregnant women or those with children because they had to hide that they are pregnant or have children in order to stay at work and that put them (Women and Children) at risk.

It would be a job to earn a living but still violate the rights of the child and the parent. Therefore, after realising all of those issues REWU started campaigning for the Establishment of ECDs near mines and queries where children will be cared for while parents will be safely continuing the job.

4. Fighting Child labour and sexual abuse

Children under the age of 18 also dropped out of school and came to look for work in mines and quarries that had no legal documents, and this is where REWU also decided to put more focus in order to campaign against Child labour.

In this regard, REWU has entered into the partnership with World Vision Rwanda through ‘It Takes Every Rwandan’ campaign whose priorities will be to, among others, ensure that child labour and sexual abuse cases are highlighted and punished by law as required; and to advocate for an end to this kind of violence across the nation.

The ‘It Takes Every Rwandan’ campaign, thus, aligns with and contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to “end the abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence and torture against children”. 

The campaign will be held in schools and communities to encourage them to take action against these wrongdoings that are detrimental to the health and rights of the children.

REWU VOLUNTEERS Engagement:

Normally, Volunteers Leaders of REWU are based in the companies where their daily works are performed. However, we have thought about having active volunteers among community in order to facilitate the smooth running of REWU activities as highlighted in the 4 reasons why REWU was established.

Those volunteers are the focal person at community level and REWU has to ensure that they possess required skills to handle theirs tasks as enshrined in REWU mandates.

Training Offers to upscale skills in Child Protection and Workers Rights

From March 18th to 19th, 2021, the Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union Volunteers in the Western and Southern Provinces were trained on fight against all forms of child labour child Sexual abuse and Workers rights in order to be able to fully campaign against the above-mentioned issues in their respective areas of the assignments. The training which took place in Karongi District, Western Province was held in partnership with World Vision Rwanda.

At the official opening of the training, the World Vision manager of the Kivu Cluster Mrs. Kellen commended the organization of the training adding that trainees should make child protection the priority.

She urged them to invest more efforts in the campaign so that local community actively play their role in this fight against Child labour and Child Sexual abuse. After the official opening of the training, Mrs. Kellen wishes them all the best throughout the training.

Why the training of volunteers?

Commenting on the training, the Secretary General of REWU, Eng. Mutsindashyaka Andre, said, “It is a training for REWU volunteers from the West and South Provinces. They are being trained on child protection, Role of REWU Trade Union to advocate and protect children and its responsibilities in matters of labour law enforcement.”

He says the reason why these volunteers are trained is that they will go to train children’s committees in cells and sectors and therefore they are being trained by child protection experts from World Vision Rwanda as well as labor inspector from Rutsiro – Karongi districts.

Labor inspector made emphasis on different violence in relation to child labor and call upon the REWU volunteers to share information with authorities anytime they meet similar cases in their respective area.

Volunteers urged to be vigilant

On the First day of the training, also IP Rutayisire Aimable in charge of community policing in Karongi District, urged the Rwanda Extractive Industry Workers Union (REWU) Volunteers to be vigilant and provide timely information on suspected cases of Child sexual abuse as well as cases of hard labour in which children are involved.

IP Rutayisire said, “With REWU and World Vision, we will work with these REWU volunteers to provide timely information, suspects will be brought to justice to end child abuse and child labor.”

At the same day, Karongi and Rutsiro Labor Inspector Frederic Mpumuro said: “Law and political will is there.”

He went on to say that parents should uphold parental values and learn to care for their children and to respect their rights.

“Because we have lost our culture, how can you, as a parent, enjoy the money of which the child brings you and you are the one who is responsible for raising and nurturing him or her?” Mr. Mpumuro warned parents who don’t care for their children to the point they are happy to be fed by the money the child has received from the bad deeds such as rape or forced labor. “We want to tell parents and employers that child labor is punishable by law, and that if they do not comply, they will be punished by the law.” He added

During the two hours, the participants joined in groups to exchange views on the issues raised in order to find together solutions in the fight against child abuse and the elimination of child labor.

On the last day of the training, trainees were explained the importance of Trade Union, Labour Law and International Labour Convention No. 182 on child labour and Convention No. 190 on the elimination of labour-based violence.

The subjects were tackled on 19th March 2020 in Karongi District where the training workshop took place.

Hobess NKUNDIMANA, INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT ON LABOR RIGHTS, told participants in the training that being in the trade union allows an employee to have a say in advocating for his or her rights and advocating for work-related issues.

“The hand of the employee who is in the union is always arisen to demand that the rights of the employee be respected,” he said.

Remember that the two-days’ workshop which ended on Friday, March 19, 2021 was organized by REWU in collaboration with World Vision Rwanda.

Its main purpose was to discuss the rights of the child and to find together what can be done to protect the child from sexual abuse as well as from the child labour.

Of course, the training was also part of equipping REWU volunteers with knowledge on the labour law so that once they reach the community, they can train them using that knowledge they have gained from the workshop.

REWU Secretary General. Eng. Mutsindashyaka Andre says they are optimistic that the trainees are going to implement what they have been taught, especially in the prevention of child abuse and the prevention of child labor.

“Over the past two days, REWU volunteers have been able to learn a lot on the child protection, Labor Law, the International Labor conventions, and in particular this was to help them better understand their role in the campaign to protect children from child labor and sexual abuse.” He said

Concluding the workshop on behalf of the Mayor of Karongi District, Mr. Karasanyi Nicola, the in charge of Karongi District Council, thanked REWU and World Vision for organizing the workshop adding that the rights of children should be respected by every Rwandan.

He called on the trainees to actively bring solutions in the protection of the child from any form of abuse and assured REWU and World Vision of cooperation in helping them achieve their mission.

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