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 First strike in decades in Bahrain in aluminium plant

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Pascal
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Number of posts : 225
Localisation : France
Organisation : UL CNT Besançon
Registration date : 2006-08-20

PostSubject: First strike in decades in Bahrain in aluminium plant   Sat Oct 21, 2006 3:41 pm

Khaleej Times, 18 October :

Quote :
ASKER - Work in Bahrain’s aluminum smelter Alba came to halt for an hour Wednesday morning in the first worker walkout in decades in the country to press demands for a wage increase.

More than 1,000 union workers from Bahrain Aluminum Company took part in the protest that was held inside the company and caused work stoppage in all non-essential facilities at it.

The workers were protesting a unilateral decision by the company to give them a 15 to 22 per cent wage increase, below the 30 per cent pay hike, which the union was demanding for its members in three months of negotiations.

The strike was the first of its kind to be organized by a Bahraini workers union in decades, coming two days after the king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, issued a decree amending the existing labour law in the private sector to ban the dismissal of a worker because of his activities in his trade union.

The decree also instructed courts to reinstate the employee to his post and order the employer to compensate him for the period spent out of work when proven that his dismissal was based on his union activities.

The union, with some 2,400 members, is the largest in Bahrain.

“The strike is not an attempt to harm the company or the national economy, but the management needs to understand that the workers’interests must be taken into consideration,” Albas union head Ali Abdullah Al Binali told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

“The strike which will continue until our demands are met is a real test of the new law and the company’s will to adhere to it,” he said.

Work was stopped in all non-essential parts of the company, but workers in key areas like the turbines unit that provide electricity to the facility and country’s electricity grid stayed on the job.

During the strike, the workers carried Bahraini flags and posters of the king, whom they praised for passing the law and standing up for them.

Alba, which commissioned its 1.7 billion-dollar Line 5 expansion project in May 2005, increasing its aluminium production capacity to 840,000 metric tonnes, from 530, 000 metric tonnes, is the world’s largest modern smelter and the third largest aluminium factory.

Half of Alba’s production is sold in the Bahrain market another 20 per cent is exported to the Far East, 18 per cent to the Gulf, and 7 per cent to South East Asia.

Bahrain was the second Gulf state to legalize labour unions in 2002 after Kuwait.

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Pascal
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PostSubject: Re: First strike in decades in Bahrain in aluminium plant   Sat Oct 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Trade Arabia, October 19 :

Quote :

Pay deal at Alba after brief stoppage

Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) said it had agreed to raise employee salaries after a one-hour strike, the first after a new law easing restrictions on union activities.

Alba's trade union leader said 1,750 employees stopped work yesterday for one hour to demand higher pay, an action he said cost Alba $5 million.

Alba's public relations manager Khalid Bomtaia said there were less than 500 strikers.

The company declined to comment on the cost of the strike, but said the pay increase would cost Alba BD4.6 million ($12.2 million).

'Negotiations over salary adjustments ... concluded successfully ... following an agreement between Alba's executive management team and its labour union to raise the average salary increase from 15 to 20 per cent,' Alba said in a statement.

Union chairman Ali Al Binali said the strike was a first among Bahrain's larger firms.

'The issue is finished. They said they will give us 20 per cent ... This (strike) cost the company $5 million. This was the first strike among Bahrain's big companies (and) the first strike where people could not be sacked,' he said.

On Tuesday, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa issued a decree as part of labour law reforms stating that no labourer should be sacked for trade union activities.

Gulf Daily News, October 20 :
Quote :
New Alba deal on workers' pay

A dispute between Alba's Labour Union and management was amicably settled yesterday after the company approved a general salary increase of 20 per cent.

The new agreement will cost the company BD4.6 million, Alba said in a statement.

It said that its executive management team, with the agreement of the Alba Labour Union board, decided that salary adjustments for all employees would range between 20-22pc.

The adjustments will be made effective this month.

The agreement, which was reached at negotiations held yesterday morning at the company's administration building, was announced to the employees by the management.

The adjustment was made by Alba's board of directors in line with directives from His Majesty King Hamad, who had ordered a salary adjustment for all employees when he met the chairman and members of the Alba board last month.

"Following His Majesty's directives, the board appointed a specialised consulting firm to review employee salary scales," said chief executive Ahmed Al Nuaimi.

"This was part of Alba's strategy to keep up with dynamic changes in the labour market and economic conditions in the country."

Work was brought to a halt at Alba for an hour on Wednesday as more than 1,700 workers went on strike to demand a wage increase.

The strike, called by the 2,400-strong union from 6.30am to 7.30am, cost the company $5 million (BD1.8m), claimed union chairman Ali Al Binali.

He said the workers were protesting a unilateral decision by the company to give them a 5pc to 22pc wage increase, below the 30pc pay increase demanded by the union.

The strike was the first of its kind to be organised by a Bahraini workers' union in decades.

Mr Al Binali yesterday expressed delight at the new agreement. Under the new agreement, 2,420 employees will receive a 20pc wage increase, 533 will get a 21pc increase and 104 will receive a 22pc increase.

Based on the earlier salary review, 2,252 employees were scheduled to receive 15pc increase, 533 to get 21pc, 103 to receive 22pc and 104 only 5pc.

"This disparity has been removed under the new agreement as everyone is getting 20pc or more," said Mr Al Binali. "This reflects the success of the united stand taken by all employees as well as the co-operation of the Alba board and management.

"Above all, we are all grateful to His Majesty who gave his directives to the board in support of the workers' demands."

Alba's statement said the negotiations proceeded amicably between the management team, headed by Mr Al Noaimi, and union officials, headed by Mr Al Binali.

The negotiations were closely followed up by board chairman Dr Essam Fakhro, who had issued directives to ensure that the outcome of the meeting would enhance employee morale.

Dr Fakhro also emphasised the strong, cordial working relationship between the management team and labour union officials.

Mr Al Binali said the union yesterday withdrew a two-week notice given to the management on Wednesday warning that more strikes could follow if it does not respond to pay increase demands.

A meeting called by the union last night at Alba Club to discuss future course of action was turned into a celebration party.

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Socialism is the movement to restore human being's conscious will.

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