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Thu 2 Oct 2008 04:28 PM

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Bahrain nurses wear black ribbons in pay fight

Health workers vow to continue campaign for better pay for all nurses in Gulf state.

Bahrain nurses wear black ribbons in pay fight
HOSPITAL FIGHT: Nurses will wear black ribbons in Bahrain to protest over their pay rise offer. (Getty Images)

Nurses in Bahrain will fight on with their campaign for universal pay recognition despite a decision by the Prime Minister to cap the number of nurses paid on a higher professional salary scale.

Members of the Bahrain Nurses Society (BNS) will switch from wearing white ribbons of hope to black ribbons of grief this month, after learning the majority of diploma-qualified nurses will remain on a general pay scale.

In August, the society appealed directly to the Prime Minister’s office to reject draft proposals drawn up by the Ministry of Health and the Civil Bureau to develop a two-tier pay scale.

Under the proposed plans, only nurses with a bachelors degree or above would qualify for the higher pay award.

But the draft plans were rubber stamped, allowing just 800 degree nurses and existing chief nursing officers to be paid on the professional pay scale, which begins at 500 dinars ($1,326) per month.      “I am very sad, people are grieving,” president of the BNS Rula Al Saffar said.

The remainder of the 6,000 strong nursing work force will remain on grade nine to 11 of the general pay scale, earning a starting monthly salary of 380 dinars ($1,000).   Extra allowances have been awarded to recognise the risk associated with nursing work. Those working in critical care will get an extra BHD100 ($265) per month and those on general wards 75 dinars ($198) extra.

But nurses in the community will receive nothing – despite the BNS requesting an allowance of 50 dinars ($132) per month for this group.

“This actually develops division in the profession,” Ms Al Saffar said. “The quality of nursing care will drop as nurses leave to find better paid jobs.”

The Bahrain government’s decision came as neighbouring Saudi Arabia revealed it was in desperate need of nurses. The country’s Ministry of Health is in the process of recruiting 2,000 new nursing staff from the Philippines and has launched a new nursing scholarship scheme to train 1,000 Saudi girls.

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