Batelco union and Labour Ministry discuss dismissals

Trade union meets with Ministry to discuss the recent dismissal of two union members and a dispute over pay increases.

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By  Michele Howe Published  August 27, 2007

The Batelco Trade Union will meet today with the Ministry of Labour to discuss a series of issues including the recent dismissal of two union members and the union's claim that Batelco reneged on a pay deal.

Union chairman Maki Abbas said the dismissal of the two union members would be top of the agenda at the meeting, which would also be attended by the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions.

Majed Suhrab, deputy chairman of the Trade Union, and Faisal Ghazwan, head of the studies and research committee, were sacked last month allegedly for organising illegal protests.

"We cannot sit around a table to discuss any other issues without the return of our two colleagues. They are on the top of our agenda but this does not mean that our other demands are forgotten about," Abbas said.

Salary issues would also be discussed at the meeting, he said.

The union claims the operator did not keep to an agreement negotiated earlier this year by the Labour Ministry to award a 15% salary increase to some of its lowest paid staff.

It claims the operator awarded pay increases of 11% to grade G3 and 13% to G4, but not the 15% originally agreed.

The union also claims that the operator has not kept it updated on the salary study it committed to undertake.

Batelco corporate affairs general manager Ahmed Al Janahi responded that the operator had awarded the 15% salary increase.

The distribution of the increase varied according to the grade, he said. "The lower grades got more than the higher grades. The lower ones we gave them 15%-16% and the upper ones we gave them 14%," he told ITP.net.

The increases included the 3% merit awarded at the beginning of the year, he said.

The salary study was complete and had been shown to the board, Al Janahi added.

Batelco is in a long-running battle with its trade union over various issues including salary levels and proposed changes to its retirement package.

The trade union has twice this year cancelled planned strike action, most recently in April.

The union recently launched a solidarity campaign in support of Suhrab and Ghazwan, but this has now been put on hold, Abbas said.

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