Gulf Air union demands reinstatement of staff
Manama, July 4, 2013
Unionists at Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, have demanded the reinstatement of 34 employees, who lost their jobs weeks before the airline reopened its voluntary redundancy scheme (VRS).
Gulf Air Trade Union (GATU) has also threatened to take action against the management if they do not comply with its request, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The VRS was relaunched after a joint meeting was held between the Labour Ministry, Gulf Air and Mumtalakat last month.
The airline has been going through a restructuring for the last seven months as part of its cost-cutting strategy.
GATU spokesman Mohammad Mahdi told the GDN they would be forced to act if former employees were not reinstated.
"Those 34 staff members should have been reinstated as soon as there was a decision made to reopen the VRS," he said.
"The government and management agreed the VRS should be reopened as there was no immediate need to start the compulsory redundancy. The decision was in reaction to the dismissals and although the compulsory redundancy was stopped, those dismissed staff have not been reinstated."
Mahdi also claimed the grievances of staff, who were made redundant, have been ignored.
"Gulf Air opened up the channel to communicate with staff that have grievances and all the staff that were fired have filed complaints, but have not received any response from the people in Gulf Air's human resources," he said.
"Some of those who have filed grievances have still not received their severance packages and they are in limbo waiting for a response."
However, the airline said those dismissed were "unfortunately" a necessary component of the restructuring.
"Gulf Air is seven months into implementing a restructuring strategy to put the airline on a path towards long-term sustainability," said a spokeswoman.
"Unfortunately, a necessary component of the restructuring is the right sizing of the airline's workforce. This is being done with a focus on maintaining as many skilled and qualified nationals as possible.
"During this process, Gulf Air has kept all its major stakeholders involved, including the government, Labour Ministry and the airline's trade unions. Gulf Air's main priority is a successful restructuring. This will ensure a long-term future with better opportunities for the airline's workforce,” she added.
She said all employees affected by the restructuring have received a "generous" severance package, significantly higher than the requirements of Bahrain's Labour Law.
In May, the GDN published a CAPA Centre for Aviation report, which was an analysis of Gulf Air. It stated that unions, although supporting the local workforce throughout the restructuring, have caused lengthy delays in the process.
Gulf Air launched its three-year strategy to cut jobs, simplify its fleet and change its destination network in January.
It hopes to achieve cost savings of 24 per cent by the end of the year and reduce the airline's losses from BD95 million ($250.5 million) to BD58 million by 2017.
Around 3,800 people were employed by Gulf Air, which is reportedly seeking to shed up to 1,066 jobs - as part of the massive downsizing operation - of which 565 are based abroad.
The airline earlier said 15 per cent of its workforce had been reduced at the end of February as a result of its voluntary retirement scheme. – TradeArabia News Service