Turkish construction firm Summa which was contracted to expedite the completion of the Kigali Convention Centre is in the spotlight following accusations of labour rights abuses by over 250 workers.
The workers, who recently stormed the offices of the engineering firm demanding to see the top managers, are appealing to President Paul Kagame to intervene because they have not received any help from the various government agencies concerned.
The workers say they worked day and night and overtime consumptions to complete the multi-million facility in time for the 27th African Union Summit but they did not put into consideration.
“We worked day and night, most of us worked over time, but all this was not put into consideration. We were forced to sign contracts before reading the terms and we were not given copies,” said Janvier Habarurema on behalf of the workers.
The workers say they were threatened, beaten and summarily dismissed when they asked about contracts, overtime or benefits or questioned the amount of money deposited in their accounts which was less than the agreed salary.
On Wednesday, 266 workers gathered at the Turkish firm’s offices in Kimihurura. When Journalists requests to speak to Summa management were denied too.
“We are sorry Summa can’t speak to you now. Please talk to the Ministry of Labour and Public Service because it is aware of this issue and it is being handled,” a translator working for Summa said.
A security guard further said that there is a directive not to allow journalists to access the premises of the construction firm. An e-mail sent to the company’s headquarters in Turkey is yet to be answered.
The workers complain over labour services in Gasabo who are in touch with Turkish construction, Summa. They said only His Excellence Paul Kagame can address this injustice.
“Many of our colleagues were summarily and wrongfully dismissed for asking for their rights and since they keep the contracts, you don’t have anywhere to complain. They ask security not to allow you into the premises,” another worker said.
Some of the labourers said that they were tortured or physically assaulted by the Turkish supervisors as the firm came under pressure from the government to complete the building. Some displayed fingers mangled by machines and other body parts injured during the construction as Theeastafrica reports.
The workers want the government to intervene and resolve their matter. They say their case is complicated by the fact that Summa kept all the contracts which they claim to have “forcefully” signed because they desperately needed jobs.
Théogène U @Bwiza.com