Batelco facing industrial action planned

Staff claim they are under paid and demand 25% salary increase.

  • E-Mail
By  Administrator Published  March 1, 2007

Staff at Bahrain's incumbent telco provider Batelco threatened to take industrial action last month, with up to 1,200 employees pledging to take part in a demonstration over salary levels and retirement benefits.

The Batelco Trade Union is demanding a 25% increase in salaries, as well as clarity over the company's Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) scheme. The union claims that current salary levels do not take into account the level of inflation in the Gulf.

The union has been arguing these issues with Batelco for several months, Maki Abbas, chairman of the Batelco Trade Union, told press. "We have proved to them in our study that it [the salary level] is not competitive," he said. The union is expecting between 600 and 1,200 out of Batelco's 1,600 Bahrain-based staff to take part in the demonstration. Batelco described the demonstration as a "disappointing action"; claiming that last December it offered the union the opportunity to conduct "joint research" into salaries and benefits for its workers in Bahrain.

"Batelco's offer to conduct a joint study and establish one working party with Batelco and Union representatives to research salary packages still stands," Ahmed Al Janahi, Batelco's corporate affairs general manager, said in a statement. While media reports had suggested Batelco is looking at cutting up to 400 jobs, Al Janahi said it has no such plans, but added that it would not rule out any headcount review in the future.

Batelco has been adopting an aggressive overseas expansion policy since its CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos came to office in 2005. Batelco procured a 96% stake in Umniah in June 2006 for US$415 million and acquired Jordan's first FBWA licence last December, as a part of a three-year plan Batelco has to attract 30% of its revenue from its overseas operations.

SMS revenues in Middle East and Africa to hit US$2.58 billion.

A recent report by Portio Research estimates SMS revenues in the MEA region to reach US$2.58 billion by 2012, with worldwide revenues predicted to surpass US$67 billion during the same period.

Total revenue for SMS in the MEA for 2006 ended on US$1.2 billion and is expected to edge up to US$2 billion by 2010 according to the study. Portio's projections for MMS were not so encouraging, with MEA revenues hovering around US$0.2 billion at the end of 2007 and growing to just US$0.4 billion by 2012.

John White, business development manager Portio Research, told CommsMEA that the application of MMS had been misunderstood at an early stage, leading to exaggerated expectations.

"We have argued that SMS is such a huge success because it is such a useful easy and cheap service, whereas MMS is not necessarily any of those things. It is more complex, more expensive and it does not serve the same level of utility that SMS serves. It was hyped from day one that it would be a successor to SMS, but that was never going to happen" said White.

"It is more of an entertainment application rather than a messaging one. It is successful but people are always measuring it against SMS and making it look like a failure," he added.

By 2012, the report predicts mobile instant messaging (MIM) will supplant SMS as the mainstream messaging service as smartphones and wireless internet proliferate, especially in Western markets such as North America. Operators, the report suggests, need to strike a balance between SMS and IM pricing in order to prevent the cannibalisation of SMS revenues in the future.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code