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Thu 22 Feb 2007 10:31 AM

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Batelco staff to take industrial action

Staff at Batelco are striking next week, with 1,200 employees expected to demonstrate over pay and conditions.

Staff at Batelco are taking industrial action next week, with up to 1,200 employees expected to take part in a demonstration over salary levels and retirement benefits.

The demonstration, organised by the Batelco Trade Union, will take place on February 28, and will be held near the Regency Intercontinental Hotel in Bahrain to coincide with the operator's annual general meeting (AGM) there.

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
IT Weekly

. "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, told
IT Weekly

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.