Batelco backtrack on controversial layoffs

Bahraini telecom to reinstate 40 workers in face of growing opposition from staff and unions.

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By  Tom Arnold Published  July 20, 2008

Bahraini telecom Batelco has backtracked on a decision to lay off 40 workers in the face of growing opposition to the move from employees and trade unions.

The company said on Sunday its board has agreed to either reinstate or pay compensation to the employees it made redundant last month, despite a court last week ruling in favour of its earlier action.

A judge on Thursday nullified a previous court ruling on July 13 that said Batelco was required to immediately reinstate the ex-employees prior to the case being heard at a forthcoming labour court hearing.

Batelco said it wanted to reach a conclusion that “would satisfy all parties involved”, rather than wait until the labour court hearing in September.

It said the ex-employees will be deployed in new roles or paid compensation “based on the package the Arbitration Bureau had requested in their earlier ruling”.

Batelco said similar compensation has also been offered to other employees who accepted a compensation package earlier in the year.

The u-turn follows angry demonstrations by hundreds of staff and activists to protest the “forced retirement” of the employees.

The workers had apparently been made redundant under an early retirement scheme. They received letters telling them that their last day at work would be June 29, according to union officials.

The government and individual shareholders hold 80 percent of Batelco, while British company Cable and Wireless holds the remaining shares.

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