Wage protest

November 29, 2010

MORE than 50 workers at a Bahrain contracting company went on strike yesterday, claiming they had not been paid for six to eight months.

The Indian and Bangladeshi workers are refusing to return to work until the company pays their outstanding salaries. They are working as carpenters and labours at the Ali Bin Ebrahim Abdul A’al Holding Company, Khamis, where they earn BD70 to BD100 a month.

Company director and group general manager Satheesh Sabu yesterday confirmed the workers were owed money, but claimed it was only two months since they had been paid.

He blamed delays in the company receiving payments from the government for delay in salaries. “Our company started operations in 1951 and we have a name in the market for more than 60 years,” said Mr Sabu.

“The workers didn’t receive their salaries only for two months, as we haven’t received payments from ministries. But when they approached us at our offices we promised they would get their pending salaries within a few days.

“They spoke to us for 30 minutes and then they left. We have many staff working for us and we always help them if they are in trouble.

“We also give them loans when they need and advanced salaries if required. We are trying to settle the issue soon.”

Workers who have not been paid showed up at the company’s offices yesterday morning to demand their salaries.

One of the workers said they would only go back to work when they got their money.

“The company hasn’t paid us for six to eight months,” he claimed. “We will not go to work unless the management pays our outstanding salaries. “They have already promised to pay us for two months on Thursday and the balance by December 15.

“However, they have been making similar promises for a long time and when we go back to work, they forget their promise and keep us waiting for the payment again.

“We have families to take care of and support. We are also facing problems, as we don’t have money to buy groceries and other daily items.

“We don’t know who to complain to, as the management is not listening to us. We will not go back to work unless we get our money, and we don’t care how long it takes.”

He said the workers went on strike in October for 15 days, but returned to work after the company paid them two months’ salaries.

“The Labour Ministry was involved and we received our two-month outstanding salaries then,” said the worker.

“We haven’t informed the ministry yet, but I believe they are aware of the strike, as one of the inspectors called a worker earlier. We are hoping to get our salaries soon.”

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