Talks underway to avert Bapco strike
Manama, May 26, 2010
Negotiations are underway to prevent a strike by the Bapco Trade Union over the status of 350 employees, who were transferred to a new private company.
The union is demanding the rights of employees to be protected after they were transferred to the newly formed Tatweer Petroleum.
The company was established in January, taking over all upstream oil activity in Bahrain.
However, a Bapco spokesperson dismissed suggestions of an impending strike, saying the matter was still under negotiation.
'The transferred employees remain Bapco employees and nothing has been changed as far as their rights go,' said the spokesman.
'We have repeatedly reassured the employees that they will continue to be part of Bapco and have guaranteed their job security.
'The union has raised a few demands about the contract and we agreed on some points, but disagreed on others.
'Negotiations are still ongoing and we hope this issue will be resolved through dialogue.'
Union deputy chairman Mohammed Dulabi said that their demands were presented in February, but claimed none had been met.
'A total of 260 employees of the ones who were transferred have signed a petition demanding to receive their full rights, otherwise they will strike,' he said.
'They have handed the petition to the union so that we can discuss the matter and see what our next step is.
'Of course, if nothing will be done then the only solution is to go on strike.'
Dulabi said the union and management had been disputing a list of 52 demands, including pay rises for staff and automatic retirement for those aged 60. The list was issued after union leaders met with Oil and Gas Affairs Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza to discuss the status of the transferred employees, among other matters.
Dulabi said one major item dragging on for five sessions of negotiations was the creation of a collective bargaining contract, which would be signed between the management and union.
'When we gave our demands, the management refused many of them, which violates the agreement we had with Dr Mirza,' he said.
'Among our demands is that all the benefits the transferred employees used to receive remain the same, but that was also rejected by the management.
'But the issue that remains important and is the core of the potential strike is the creation of a collective bargaining contract, which would be signed between the management and the union on behalf of the employees.
'We've had five extensive meetings and nothing has been solved yet. So now we will meet with the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions to discuss our next step.'-TradeArabia News Service