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Sun 17 Aug 2008 04:00 AM

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Nurses win pay rise after strike threat

Bahrain nurses could receive a pay rise of 15% after a showdown with health authorities.

Bahrain nurses could receive a pay rise of 15% after a showdown with health authorities.

The Health Ministry has agreed to consider a new pay scale for nurses after the Bahrain Nursing Association delivered a three-week ultimatum to officials, threatening to spearhead a nationwide strike.

In early tactics, more than 6,000 nurses wore orange ribbons to work in protest at low pay and understaffing.

BNS president Rula Al Saffar said the pay reform followed a long fight to persuade the Health Ministry to value its nurses.

"We, the nurses, have been appealing to the ministry since 1982 for the increment, but no one listens to us.

"At that time, the ministry categorised us as unprofessional, saying we were not qualified enough and put us in line with the secretaries and technicians - which is a total injustice."

"All the nurses have graduated with Bachelor's, Master's and PhDs from the College of Health Sciences and Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland Medical University of Bahrain."

Nurses will now be assigned to either a professional or general pay scale, said government official Aisha Al Qaisi.

Nurses with bachelor degrees will be shifted to a professional wage grade, while others will have their pay raised a grade.

Both tracks offer nurses an estimated 15% increase on their current pay scale, which begins at a basic wage of BD300 (US$796) a month for new nurses.

The government may also increase allowances for nurses working in critical areas, such as intensive care units, and in primary care. Both fields face severe nursing shortages.

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