Crunch talks to avert DHL strike
Manama, July 12, 2010
Hundreds of DHL employees in Bahrain could strike on Wednesday if last-minute talks over pay and conditions fail, it has emerged.
A crunch meeting is due to take place tomorrow between leaders of the DHL trade union and company management, as well as officials from the Labour Ministry and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions.
The union is demanding salary increases, a shift allowance, fixed transport allowance and comprehensive health insurance, including dental coverage.
'At the moment, only some people get full health coverage and we want everyone to get the same,' DHL trade union president Shukri Hassan said yesterday.
'We are still waiting for the management to sit and talk with us, the dialogue is still open, but if they do not set a periodic timeframe to meet our demands, a strike is the only option.
'We have informed the company of our strike plan verbally and the letter will be submitted today.'
He said union members had accepted their pay could be deducted for each day they did not show up for work if a strike went ahead.
If talks fail, the union plans to hold daily rallies near the Al Ghous Corniche, on the Muharraq coast facing Manama.
'We don't want to strike, it's bad for us, it's bad for the company and it's bad for the customers too, but we want to make our point and will do so in a peaceful way,' said union vice-president Mohammed Isa.
Our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) reported last week that DHL management had made certain concessions to the union including heat allowance, transport allowance and health insurance for staff.
However, union members claim that these concessions are insufficient.
'We asked for four months' heat allowance and they only gave us three; we asked for complete health insurance, but it doesn't cover dental or eye care; and the transport allowance is only BD15 a month,' said trade union member and operations controller Ahmed Ali.
According to the union, the ongoing disagreement stems from years of management line-up changes.
'Every one or two years DHL changes the manager and each time a manager goes, the old promises they make about pay and allowances are forgotten by the new manager,' he claimed.
'We don't expect all our demands to be met at once, we just want a documented periodic timeframe for our demands to be met.'
A DHL spokesman responded by saying every effort was being made to avert a strike, claiming it had already made fair concessions to staff.
'DHL Bahrain has made substantial additional investment in employees during 2010,' he said.
'Staff received significant salary increases and extended health benefits for their families.'
The spokesman added officials had not given up hope of resolving the dispute before the proposed strike, but plans were in place to ensure its services would not be disrupted if it goes ahead.
'The union has additional demands and we are still in discussions to arrive at an amicable settlement,' he said.
'We are hopeful for an early resolution. In the event of a strike, DHL has contingency measures in place that will ensure uninterrupted service delivery.'-TradeArabia News Service