Bahrain oil workers win bonuses

BAPCO worker protesting in 2008.

BAPCO workers won their fight for a two-month annual bonus yesterday. The company increased its earlier offer of seven weeks pay, after union members rejected it at a secret ballot.

It originally offered a one-month bonus, sparking an angry reaction from union leaders, who said workers deserved more. Oil and Gas Affairs Minister and Bapco chairman Dr Abdulhussain Mirza said yesterday that an agreement had been reached with the trade unionists.

"We have agreed to give a two-month salary as the annual bonus," he said.

"We hope that there will be further co-operation between the trade union and Bapco management."

Chief executive Abdulkarim Al Sayed said agreement had been reached in principle.

"There is an agreement in principle now to give them a two-month salary as annual bonus," he said.

"We have been negotiating about this for a while now.

"Though the exact time on when to actually hand out the bonus has not been reached, it could be either this month or the next."

Bapco workers kept the company on tenterhooks on Tuesday night, after voting on whether or not to accept the seven-week offer - made in the face of a possible strike. More than 500 Bapco Union members cast votes at a general body meeting, but union leaders sealed the ballot until yesterday. The votes were counted and it turned out that the majority had voted for a two-month annual bonus, said union spokesman Hameed Al Rashid.

He said worker were happy with the management decision to pay two months.

"Every Bapco worker is happy, now that our demand will be finally fulfilled."

Mr Al Rashid thanked Dr Mirza, Mr Al Sayed and other board members. "We thank them from the bottom of our heart and we promise our full cooperation with Bapco in the future," he said.

The management had been given until March 1 to agree to two months' salary as bonus or face the prospect of a picket, court action or a strike. Union chairman Abdulghaffar Abdulhussein said earlier that workers deserved the two-month bonus, since last year was perhaps the best in Bapco's 77-year history.

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Mar 7 2009 13:13



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