Impasse over sacked workers in Bahrain
Manama, February 12, 2012
Companies have been accused of hindering efforts to rehire workers sacked during the unrest - despite claims they acted legally. Some allegedly ignored government orders and imposed strict conditions on returning staff.
But many employers argue they should not be forced to rehire disloyal workers, who abandoned their duties for several weeks to participate in illegal protests.
The impasse was highlighted during a Press conference at the Labour Ministry in Isa Town yesterday.
It means companies are now facing a potential legal battle with the government.
Many people were asked to sign new contracts or given final warning letters before being allowed to return to their jobs, said Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan.
He said the stance went against directives issued by His Majesty King Hamad, who ordered sacked workers should be unconditionally reinstated, and warned the offenders could face legal action.
'A number of staff have returned to their jobs, but a certain number have not returned due to conditions which have been set, such as new contracts to be signed, meaning that the previous ones were null and void,' said Humaidan.
'Another condition is that when people have been reinstated, they were given a final warning letter.
'At the same time the workers had some conditions, stating that they had been dismissed unfairly and demanded an apology from the employers. Due to this, some workers have not gone back to their original jobs.
'In an attempt to close this chapter of dismissals, the ministry sent a letter on Thursday to the major companies laying down very clear instructions that the remaining number of workers should be reinstated as soon as possible, without any prejudice or any conditions and as stated in their original contracts.'
Speaking during a Press conference at the Labour Ministry in Isa Town, Mr Humaidan said the firms involved were operating under the umbrella of the Mumtalakat Holding Company, including Batelco, Gulf Air, Bapco and Alba.
He said it was the ministry's role to ensure every sacked worker will be reinstated or found alternative employment, according to royal directives and orders of the government.
'If companies do not comply, then any worker who does not return to work can come to the ministry and submit a complaint,' said Humaidan. 'This is our rule that everything is carried out according to the law.'
Humaidan said no companies were exempt from the orders and could be prosecuted for beaching them.
'Within the smaller companies, the percentage of dismissed workers is very small and the majority are already back in their positions,' he said.
'However, dismissals could have taken place at any time over the last year and workers can come to the ministry and sort out the dispute according to the Labour Law or the case can be referred to the court.
'We will try to find a solution for all dismissed workers, whether it be through dispute resolution or taking the cases to court, it is the ministry's role to make sure everyone is reinstated.'
Humaidan said no deadline had been set for when all employees must be reinstated, but it should happen as soon as possible.
He said insurance against unemployment allowances would be paid retroactively to all sacked workers, including trade unionists, and those who received unemployment benefits would not be required to repay the money on reinstatement.
According to ministry figures, more than 900 private sector workers sacked have already been reinstated.
Out of the 2,462 dismissed, 937 have resumed their duties, 608 were given approval to return, 291 took jobs at other firms and 44 refused to be reinstated.
Another 202 dismissed workers did not complain and could not be contacted and 194 other cases were unrelated to the unerst.
Five workers were unable to return to their jobs due to their former employers going out of business and the case of two others has yet to be resolved due to the special nature of their places of work.
Of the remaining workers, only 179 have not been accepted back for various reasons. – TradeArabia News Service