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Tue 5 Feb 2008 11:57 AM

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Hundreds on strike demanding 66% pay hike

Labourers in Bahrain refuse to return to work until pay increased to $226.3 a month.

Hundreds of labourers in Bahrain went on strike on Monday demanding a 66% pay hike, the latest in a string of protests to hit contractors in the Gulf.

Around 750 Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers are refusing to return to work until their pay is increased to 85 Bahraini dinars ($226.3) a month from 60 dinars currently, reported Bahrain's Gulf Daily News.

The strike follows a two-year battle with employer Almoayyed Contracting, a civil construction and maintenance contractor, for an increase in their salaries, the newspaper said.

"Nobody wants to think about us, toiling long hours in the harsh climate here," a worker told Gulf Daily News.

"We are right to think we deserve a raise because if it was not for us, none of the company's projects would have been completed."

A spokesperson for Almoayyed Contracting said the company is currently trying to get more details about the strike, quoted the newspaper.

The strike follows a series of protests by disgruntled workers in Bahrain and other GCC countries 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 industrial action has focused worldwide attention on the plight of labourers in the GCC, whose members have been criticised rights groups over their treatment of workers.

In the most high-profile strike last year, thousands of Arabtec labourers working on the site of the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, refused to go back to work for almost two week until their demands were met.

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