Bahrain firms sack 200 workers
Manama, April 4, 2011
More than 200 workers at various top Bahrain companies including Alba, APM Terminals and Gulf Air, have been dismissed from service in recent days for absenteeism, it has emerged.
These include estimates of 100 from Alba, 100 from APM Terminals, 50 from Bahrain Airport Services (BAS) and 15 from Gulf Air, sources told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
The move followed many joining a strike across the country spearheaded by the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU).
The federation first announced a nationwide strike on February 20, but called it off after the military first withdrew from the GCC Roundabout.
It then announced an indefinite strike on March 13 in solidarity with protesters who were evicted from near the Bahrain Financial Harbour, which was called off on March 22.
Businesses and industries had warned of job cuts over large-scale absenteeism, prompting a government warning of a major crackdown unless workers get back to work.
'The termination of more than 100 employees has already been finalised,' Alba sources confirmed. 'More cases are being investigated and are being finalised.'
Each case of absenteeism was being investigated and referred to a medical commission in cases where excess sick leave had been applied, said the sources.
'It is expected around 100 more employees may be sacked in the coming days,' they said.
An official spokeswoman at the company said 'strict disciplinary action' under Bahrain's labour laws was being taken against all those who abstained from work.
'We will have a detailed statement out in the next few days outlining all measures that have been taken.'
APM Terminals managing director Steen Davidsen said several employees had 'sadly lost their jobs'. 'We had no other option left,' he told the GDN.
'We tried all we could to get them back to work and took several steps to inform them about the necessity and urgency of the matter but when there was no response, we had to take the unfortunate step.'
He said the company, which runs the Khalifa Bin Salman Port, is a critical operation that cannot manage with such behaviour. 'Fortunately, we had hundreds of dedicated workers who put in extra hours to make sure the port ran normally.'
A Gulf Air official confirmed that the services of 15 employees had been terminated. 'We treat all employees in accordance with Bahrain's labour law and the company's rules and regulations,' he said.
'We can confirm we have terminated the services of 15 employees, who were absent from work continuously for 10 working days and more, or 20 days intermittently without any written notification to the company.
'As per the company's rules and regulations, they were issued a warning notice at the expiry of five working days, but they neither reported for duty nor gave any written explanation for their unauthorised absence.'
The official said another 12 employees were served with warning letters for abstaining from work between five and nine days without any written notification to the company.
'These actions are consistent with the procedures of the company pertaining to employee absenteeism,' he said.
Meanwhile, General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) sources said 50 employees of Bahrain Airport Services had been dismissed for failing to show up at work.
The sources said BAS, which handles about 48,000 flights and nine million passengers a year, terminated the contracts after workers were found to be absent without permission and a valid reason.
The GDN earlier reported Bapco had started an investigation into absenteeism at the company over the last six weeks and promised to take the company's employees union to court for instigating the workers.-TradeArabia News Service