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Bahraini unions demand annual wage increase payment

17 February, 2021The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) is calling on major companies to end a pay freeze and retroactively pay the usual annual wage increase for workers.

IndustriALL affiliate the GFBTU is calling for the start of genuine social dialogue with the trade unions to improve the situation for workers and the safety of the production process.

In a statement issued on February 1, 2021, the GFBTU said that companies have seen an increase in profits and an expansion of activity, which makes the decision to introduce a pay freeze strange, especially since the importance of people’s efforts in achieving these profits has been recognized. Companies usually pay an average increase of three per cent, linked to a satisfactory work performance. However, this year increases were not paid.

In its statement, the GFBTU said that this is the first time that the annual wage increase for private sector workers has been stopped, and stands in contrast to their colleagues in the public sector who have enjoyed the increase. Because social security payments are linked to wage levels, failing to pay the annual increase deprives thousands of workers and pensioners of the ability to keep up with inflation, affecting different segments of society, directly and indirectly.

The GFBTU believes that the size of the increase is small compared to the profits of companies. Stopping it will have a disproportionately negative impact on the financial situation and purchasing power of workers, and will reduce the middle class and increase poverty.

The GFBTU pointed out that the annual increase, the wage ladder and the promotions system are part of an integrated system within the production facility. Failure to pay the increase threatens the integrity of the entire system.

The GFBTU has presented a comprehensive plan for the labour market and social insurance funds that would ensure the continuation of the annual increase payment to all workers and pensioners, and the employment of the unemployed, while ensuring the sustainability of social insurance funds and achieving sustainable development.

The GFBTU highlighted the role of workers and pensioners in helping companies and institutions overcome the economic crisis, and showed that their loyalty and dedication, and what they paid towards the insurance fund against disruption, contributed to the doubling of profits. They should be rewarded and not have their annual wage increase stopped.

 The general secretary of the GFBTU, Abdulqader Al-Shehabi, said:

 "The issue concerns key companies in various sectors including oil and gas and metals. The annual increase in wages would offset the continuous increase in prices and inflation. Depriving workers of this would increase poverty, weaken the purchasing power of workers and negatively affect investment."

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“This issue affects workers’ and pensioners’ living standards. We call on the respective companies to enter into social dialogue with the GFBTU and discuss this issue in good faith to find solutions.”

Image: A blacksmith's workshop. GFBTU