Firms need to cough up if staff are to stay

However much we love our jobs most of us will, let's face it, have times when we feel overworked and underpaid; few people would admit to being lucky enough to having it the other way around.

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By  Peter Branton Published  February 22, 2007

However much we love our jobs most of us will, let's face it, have times when we feel overworked and underpaid; few people would admit to being lucky enough to having it the other way around.

While such complaints are common enough in any modern workplace, sadly the growing cost of living in the GCC countries is leaving many workers feeling really underpaid.

According to a survey by online recruitment firm Bayt.com and research outfit YouGovSiraj, salary increases across different industry sectors are lagging behind the pay raises professionals feel they should be receiving. Among the most demanding sectors are IT staff, who feel they should have, on average, "deserved" pay rises of 34%, and telecommunications workers, who consider themselves deserving of average pay rises of 32%.

Hardly surprising then, that staff at Batelco are threatening a demonstration over management's refusal to offer them a 25% pay rise. The trade union representing staff at the telco feels that current salary levels do not take into account the level of inflation in the Gulf. In turn, Batelco's management team is arguing that staff are not looking at the reality of the operator facing increased competition and regulatory changes, resulting in customers' expectations of cheaper services.

For some of us, avoiding such haggling and union action is part of the reason to have come to the region in the first place. Salaries, it is worth noting, are also rising strongly - IT workers saw their pay rise more than 18% last year.

For most staff in these sectors however, industrial action is a less likely outcome of discontent over pay levels than staff choosing to leave the region altogether. While "everybody out" is unlikely to be a common refrain in data centres in Dubai, "I'm off back home" could well be repeated more frequently, if employers are not more careful.

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