Tension high as 500 labourers defy striking colleagues Sandeep Singh Grewal Staff Reporter

Tension ran high in the G. P. Zachariades labour camp near Durrat Al Bahrain in the morning after 500 workers decided to resume duty following company’s promise that it would consider their demands. “Company officials told us that those who wanted to work could come out of the camp. Ten workers first stepped out and then we all followed suit. We want to work. We were told that wages would be paid if we stepped out of the camp during the strike,” a worker told the Tribune, wishing anonymity. But the remaining 1,100-odd workers locked the camp gates and remained inside, showing no interest in the management’s verbal assurances. They were angry with the colleagues who once protested with them and now decided to resume duty. “We want to sign an agreement which guarantees a wage hike. There is no point in settling for anything less after six days of strike,” another worker said. Riot police were called after the striking workers did not allow those who wanted to resume duty to enter their camp and collect belongings. The workers felt betrayed and placed wooden chairs a few metres away from the gate in frustration. Some were asked by their supervisor to remove the screws of the main gates and enter the camp as Ministry of Labour officials mediated between the workers and the management. The mood changed after company officials and workers reached an informal agreement on a BD15 raise. But some labourers could not understand the agreement as they said they would receive the increment effective from March. The company will announce its decision on the informal agreement on Tuesday. There is no information whether the workers will be paid wages for the strike days. Workers hailing from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan went on a flash strike last Saturday, demanding wage hike to cope with inflation as well as better living conditions. The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Union had described as “bad” the living conditions at the labour camp. A federation official was quoted as saying that the medical facilities provided for the workers were also inadequate. Labour Undersecretary Shaikh Abdulrehman bin Abdulla Al Khalifa praised the efforts of labour officials and the company in finding solution to the problem. He said the company would give a wage hike to those who wanted to work and settle the dues and provide air tickets for those who did not want to work. Shaikh Abdulrehman heads a committee the Minister of labour, Dr. Majeed bin Mohsin Al Alawi, set up yesterday through Edict No. 4 for 2008. Col Yousif Saleh Bu Ali and Captain Hamad Taqi from the Ministry of Interior and Ahmed Al Kabbaz from the labour Market Regulatory Authority are panel members.

Article from: Bahrain Tribune Newspaper-