Gulf Air launches voluntary retirement scheme
Manama, May 6, 2010
Gulf Air today announced a voluntary redundancy/ retirement scheme (VRS) for its employees aimed at optimising its workforce and improving efficiency.
The initiative is part of the airline’s new strategy to create a dynamic and commercially sustainable national airline serving the people and the economy of Bahrain, said a statement.
“A key part of our strategy is to review all cost elements of the business that have an impact on its sustainability and profitability. This included personnel-related costs. Offering a VRS was one of the suggestions put forward by employees and employee representatives to address this issue,” said Samer Majali, Gulf Air CEO.
“After careful consideration and a series of consultations with the Gulf Air Trade Union (GATU) and the Ministry of Labour, we have come up with a VRS that we feel offers a reasonable financial package to Bahrainis and former owner-state nationals wishing to leave Gulf Air and wanting to pursue other business or personal ventures,” he said.
Participation in the VRS is entirely voluntary and no one will be forced to take it. It is up to the individuals to decide whether they want to apply and make use of this one-time opportunity, the statement said. However, the decision to approve or reject any application will rest with a management committee.
Under the scheme, employees, who are Bahrainis or former-owner state nationals, who have worked for the company for a minimum of six months, are entitled to apply. Employees, whose applications have been approved, will receive a compensation of one month’s salary for each completed year of service, three month’s salary as an ex-gratia payment and one month’s salary in lieu of notice period.
Medical Insurance coverage will continue to be provided until March 2011 after which primary care will be provided for the employees and their eligible family members at the Gulf Air Clinic from April 1 to Dec 2011.
The employees’ staff travel benefits will be honoured until end-2010 while they will also continue to enjoy the company’s future staff travel benefits as per the Staff Travel Guide applicable to former employees. Staff, who are members of the Gulf Air Club can continue their membership until December 2011.
“While not all of the GATU's demands could be fully met, many were taken into consideration and the VRS scheme was modified to accommodate their suggestions. I was pleased with the final outcome as both Gulf Air management and GATU have became more aligned following negotiations and reached an understanding for a voluntary scheme,” said Majali.
“Whilst we are conscious of the financial impact due to the high number of employees we have on our payroll, our main priority will always be, retaining the best and most productive talent, safeguarding the jobs of Gulf Air employees who continue to work hard for Gulf Air’s long term success and future,” he said.
Majali emphasized: “Notwithstanding the VR scheme, we are actively moving on employing more Bahrainis. I am proud to say that today 82 per cent of non-flight crew positions in Bahrain are held by Bahrainis, while our overall Bahrainisation level has reached 54 per cent.”
“However, we are not stopping at that; we continue to create more opportunities to attract qualified Bahrainis. Recently we launched a campaign to recruit Bahrainis for our customer-facing positions and we recruited and trained 125 Bahrainis for our Gulf Air’s World Wide Call Centre. We also have ongoing training programmes in cooperation with Tamkeen for Bahraini pilots, engineers and cabin crew, just to name a few,” he concluded.
To assist employees in their VRS applications Gulf Air will offer a number of services including welfare and counseling support, investment guidance and for those wishing to develop additional skills Tamkeen will be available to provide advice. –TradeArabia News Service