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Sun 10 Feb 2008 12:07 PM

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Bahrain hit by further labour strikes

Over a thousand workers on $6bn Durrat Al Bahrain development down tools over pay.

Bahrain has been hit with its second major labour strike in under a week, with over a thousand labourers on the $6 billion Durrat Al Bahrain development downing tools over pay and conditions.

Around 1,300 employees of contractor GP Zachariades, who live at an on-site labour camp, went on strike Saturday, demanding higher salaries and better living conditions, Bahrain's Gulf Daily News reported on Sunday.

Employees are calling for an increase in their monthly pay, which is reportedly just 57 Bahraini dinars ($151), and for adequate medical facilities, the newspaper said.

The Durrat Al Bahrain is an artificial island project similar to the Palm islands in Dubai.

The industrial action follows a two-day strike last week by around 750 employees of Almoayyed Contracting, who were refusing to return to work until their pay was increased to 85 dinars a month from 60 dinars currently.

Workers eventually agreed to an increase of 15 dinars, an offer they had initially rejected, due to fears they could be deported, Gulf Daily News said.

In another Gulf protest, about 50 Chinese construction workers in Kuwait attacked colleagues and police using Molotov cocktails, sticks and knives, Kuwait Times reported on Sunday.

The workers were arrested for demonstrating on a construction site in Kabd after they reportedly assaulted a project engineer in charge and attacked other workers.

The strikes follow a series of protests by disgruntled workers across the GCC last year over pay and conditions.

The soaring value of the Indian rupee and other Asian currencies against Gulf currencies pegged to the falling US dollar has only made matters worse, with protesting labourers claiming it is not worth them working for the money they now make.

The government of India, which provides the majority of unskilled labourers in the Gulf, is in the process of implementing a minimum wage for its citizens working in the region.

The government on Wednesday banned its unskilled workers from migrating to Bahrain, unless they are paid a minimum wage of 100 dinars ($265) a month, in a bid to prevent exploitation.

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