Bapco yet to honour pledge says union leader
Manama, June 8, 2010
Strike action is still an option unless Bapco meets a string of demands by its workers, a union leader has warned.
Top of the list is a collective bargaining agreement, which management is still refusing to sign, said Trade Union of Bapco Employees deputy chairman Mohammed Dulabi. He also claimed that a pledge in February that all the workers' grievances would be addressed had still not been honoured.
The pledge was made by Oil and Gas Affairs Minister and National Oil and Gas Authority chairman Dr Abdulhussain Mirza after talks with the union, said Dulabi.
He said a strike would be a last resort, but it was still an option. 'We are not at all in favour of a strike to get our demands met, but if nothing is done, we will be forced to think of that option,' said Dulabi.
'We are protesting within and outside the refinery and hope the management will see reason.'
Among the demands were clear answers from the management about the nearly 1,500 workers who are expected to be either retired or re-located after a 'restructuring' process, involving US consulting firm McKinsey and Company, to boost productivity and reduce costs.
However, a Bapco spokesperson again dismissed suggestions of an impending strike, saying the matter was under negotiation.
'We speaking continuously with the employees and wish to assure them their interests will be protected.'
The workers also want answers on the future of nearly 400 Bapco employees who have been transferred to the new private company, Tatweer Petroleum, set up in January to take over all upstream oil activity in Bahrain.
Union leaders also want answers on the future of 310 employees who are working at filling stations and the Sitra Wharf, once they are privatised.
The fate of workers transferred to Tatweer is still unclear, Dulabi said after a meeting between the union board and General Federation of Bahrain Trade Union officials.
'In addition, we have no clear picture of what will happen when the company's Sitra Wharf and the filling stations are privatised, which will once again affect employees,' he said. He said the Bapco management had also not given enough information about the 'restructuring' process.
'More than 1,500 people are expected to lose their jobs or be re-assigned,' he said. 'The management has repeatedly told us nothing would happen, but we want a written agreement.
'This collective bargaining agreement will make us feel at ease, but the management does not want to sign. Maybe they are scared of committing themselves to a signed agreement because they know what they are saying is not right.'
Dulabi said earlier the union and management had been disputing a list of 52 demands, including pay rises for staff and automatic retirement for those aged 60. He said the list was issued after union leaders met Dr Mirza to discuss the status of the transferred employees, among other matters.-TradeArabia News Service