New Report Highlights Gender Gaps, Poor Conditions for Miners
The lack of employment contracts, insurance, personal protective equipment, and poor pay have been cited as some of the challenges that people who work for mining companies continue to face.
Despite being among the country's highest foreign exchange revenue earners, the most recent report by Transparency International Rwanda says that the mining sector still has some of the most perilous conditions for employees.
According to the report, which was released last week, 79.1 per cent of the workers in the mining sector, which is also one of the most profitable industries, don't have employment contracts. And around 83 per cent of the contracts were terminated unfairly.
"Because miners tend to be unstable at work it makes us just hesitant to grant them a job contract," the report says, quoting an owner of a mining firm.
Another reason, the reports adds, is that most mining companies do not have sufficient financial resources and are thus afraid to provide employment contracts to employees for fear of having to pay taxes and other benefits to contractual workers.
In addition to the absence of employment contracts and healthcare access, mining companies also don't provide personal protective equipment.
The report showed that around 64 per cent of mineworkers said that their companies do not care for a sick worker.
One mineral field officer, who participated in the research, said that some mining companies only provide protective equipment during inspections.
The gender gap was also among the issues raised because although the 2018 mining law (article 36) promotes gender balance, only 9.8 per cent of mine workers and 15 per cent of site managers were females, according to the report.
"Some companies lack the necessary infrastructure for women, such as sharing bathrooms with men, lack of space for changing clothes, and so on, thus discouraging females who want to work in mines," the report states.
Narcisse Dushimana, the Head of Regulation and Inspection at Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), told The New Times that most of the challenges are linked to the history of the sector because there haven't been any clear regulations since the introduction of mining activities in Rwanda in the 1930s.
"In all these years the sector has been characterized by informalities. There were no clear laws, no clear policies regarding the treatment of employees."
He added that in 2018, the Board finished setting up the laws and regulations governing the sector.
"The pandemic broke out when we were trying to disseminate the laws so that mining operators, investors in the sector get to know what these laws and regulations are and standards guiding the mining sector," he explained.
RMB said it was now in the process of enforcing the new laws through informing employees about their rights and the employers their responsibilities.
Article 43 of the Law says that the licensed operator in the sector must ensure that the mine is commissioned, maintained and decommissioned in a manner that does not compromise the health and safety of workers and other people.
In addition, it operator must make sure that all persons working at the mine have the necessary skills, competence and resources to carry out their work safely and to ensure the safety of others.