Bahraini port workers launch pay protest
Manama, February 7, 2011
Bahraini port workers have launched a two-week protest after failing in a campaign for pay rises and better allowances.
Staff at APM Terminals, the company that manages the Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP), started wearing red ribbons yesterday in protest.
More than 450 Bahraini workers are said to be taking part in the red-ribbon campaign, which will be followed by a major demonstration at the company's gates on February 20.
'We will continue this protest by wearing red ribbons till February 20, when we will hold a gathering at the company gates if our demands are not met,' said company trade union chairman Salman Al Sayed.
'We have been demanding a fair transport allowance, a proper pay structure and family health insurance, but we have had no success so far.'
The employees' union represents staff at APM Terminals and its sister company Svitzer Bahrain, which employs marine pilots and provides towage, salvage and other offshore support.
Both companies are part of the AP Moller-Maersk Group.
'We have been offered BD11 as transport allowance on the condition we would not get any salary increment,' said Al Sayed.
'We asked for transportation to and from work, like for our expatriate colleagues, but that was turned down.'
He said BD11 was not acceptable and demanded at least BD20, which is apparently paid to employees of Svitzer - who have allegedly been promised regular increases.
'Even within the group there are discrepancies and we want these to be sorted out,' added Al Sayed.
He said employees were also angry that their demands for health insurance for their families had been turned down.
'We were told the company does not have the budget to do so, but we ask how the managers are being given the family health insurance facilities,' said Al Sayed.
An APM Terminals spokesman said last night discussions were on with the union on certain issuse. 'However, we would not like to comment on what we consider to be our company's internal matter.'-TradeArabia News Service