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Wed 10 Jun 2009 02:49 PM

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7,000 Bahrain workers strike 'in pay dispute' - report

UPDATE 1: Workers at Al Hamad Contracting Co say they haven't been paid for months.

Thousands of striking construction workers in Bahrain said on Wednesday they would not return to work unless they are paid their outstanding wages immediately.

The workers for Al Hamad Contracting Company, a Sharjah-based company with a strong presence in Bahrain, claimed they have not received any pay for three months and can’t afford to even buy food for themselves.

Earlier on Wednesday they called a mass strike, a move which has ground construction to a halt on several major projects including Marina West, Villamar Towers and Reef Island, Construction Week Online reported.

Reporters visited four Al Hamad labour camps on Wednesday in Askar, Salmabad and Sehla, which were full of thousands of people refusing to go to work and demanding their pay.

The workers said there was a total of 7,000 people on strike, all of whom earned a base salary of $185 a month.

Engineers with the company, who earn a salary of around $1,857 a month, also said they had not been paid since March.

Two senior Al Hamad engineers said that the company was struggling to pay its salaries because it is owed around $18.6 million from the developers of the $700 million Marina West project.

Marina West’s public relations department denied the allegation on Wednesday and said the company had no outstanding debts. They also denied that Al Hamad workers were on strike.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the $650 million Villamar Towers project said they would try and resolve the issue with Al Hamad’s management. The spokesman said they had no outstanding debts with their main contractor.

“It would be unfortunate if problems with another developer had a ripple effect and hurt a project like ours,” he said.

“I can assure you that there are no financial issues with our company and we in fact just recently paid Al Hamad ahead of schedule.”

No one from Al Hamad management was available for comment.

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