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Union warns of Batelco strike

A trade union has warned that salary talks are stalling and that the operator is planning job cuts.

The Batelco Trade Union has been in talks with the Bahraini operator since last month's planned demonstration over salary packages and retirement benefits was called off.

However, union chairman Maki Abbas told IT Weekly exclusively that frustrated union executives were now considering possible strike action as those talks were not going "as anticipated", adding that "if things go on like this, I don't think we are going to reach anywhere".

As well as failing to reach agreement on salary packages, the union is also concerned about potential job cuts. "There will definitely be some job cuts, but we still don't have an official figure," Abbas said.

The union fears cuts could mean hundreds of Batelco's 1,600 Bahrain staff could find themselves out of a job.

Batelco has repeatedly denied it is planning redundancies, but has said it will review its headcount in the face of pending deregulation in Bahrain, an action that "may result in lower number of employees".

Ahmed Al Janahi, Batelco's corporate affairs general manager, said the operator did not expect industrial action. He said negotiations were proceeding "as usual".

As part of the agreement to call off last month's demonstration, Batelco promised to appoint an independent third-party to review salary levels and said it would deliver a report to the Ministry of Labour by April 15. However, Al Janahi admitted that Batelco was still to select the third-party company.

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