Bahrain workers to get pay hike

February 15th, 2008 - 3:58 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, Feb 15 (IANS) Around 1,800 overseas workers in a Bahraini construction firm are expecting a rise in earnings after their employer assured them of a salary review within four days. The workers have called off their nearly weeklong strike and decided to resume duties Friday.

The strike ended Thursday when hundreds of workers declared that they wanted to go back to work even if others did not, according to local media reports.

Around 1,300 workers, many of them Indians, working on the Durrat Al Bahrain manmade island project, similar to the Palm Islands of Dubai, and employed by the G.P. Zachariades Contracting Co, had downed tools last Saturday demanding a salary hike.

They had originally demanded that they be paid a minimum salary of 100 Bahraini dinars ($266) from 57 Bahraini dinars that they were paid but later pared down their demand to 90.

They were joined two days later by 500 workers from another labour camp of the company.

The Indian embassy in Bahrain had recently issued a notice fixing the minimum wage for unskilled Indian workers in that Gulf nation at 100 Bahraini dinars effective March 1.

India’s Ambassador to Bahrain Balkrishna Shetty had told IANS that this step was being taken on account of the rising cost of living.

“We are linking the wage structure with the cost of living and want the salaries to be paid through banks,” Shetty said.

According to the Gulf Daily News, Bahrain’s labour ministry officials helped broker a deal to end the strike Thursday.

Company director George Zachariades was quoted as saying that the all workers had agreed to go back to work in return for a review of their salaries.

“We are aware of the depreciation of their currencies,” Zachariades told the Gulf Daily News.

The Bahraini currency, pegged to the US dollar, has taken a tumble in recent times. Compared to the rupee, its value has gone down by at least 20 percent in the last one year.

Zachariades said the workers’ demand had come down to a hike of 15 Bahraini dinars from their original demand of 100 from 57 Bahraini dinars.

“Within the next four working days, we will review the situation and come up with our best solution.”

“Those satisfied with the decision made by the board of directors shall continue and those who are not can resign and leave,” he said.

“Anyone who leaves will receive whatever they are entitled to as per their contract and the laws and regulations of Bahrain.”

He said the strike would have “an impact on the finishing time of work, the morale of our people and progress on one of the most prestigious projects in Bahrain.

“It has also had an impact on the country that we are serving.”

There are around 275,000 Indians in Bahrain, many of them working as contract labour in the construction industry.

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