Bahrain unions waiting for wage hike


Heads from the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) are preparing for a major dialogue with the government anytime this month, optimistic that their call for wage hikes will be approved.


The only question that remains is how much?


The GFBTU is backing its call for a dialogue with a petition that gathered over 10,000 signatures over the past two months.


“We are still waiting but we believe we are nearing our goal and there will be formal talks very soon,” said Jaffar Khalil, public relations officer at the GFBTU.


The top heads of the GFBTU, led by Chairman Abdulghaffar Abdulhussein, are currently attending an International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference in which the union leaders also hope to drum up support for their calls for wage hike.
Khalil said the unions would stick to their proposals for the government to increase wages based on the current index of living, which will mean a minimum wage between BD300 to BD350.


Unions bonded under the federation generally agree on salary hikes for both public and private sector although their petition drive had focused mainly on increasing wages for some 20,000 low-income workers in the government.


Around 20,000 private sector workers living with salaries below BD150 are also hoping for a mandatory minimum wage. Although no minimum wage law has been enacted as yet, the government had started a subsidy scheme to push wages to within the BD200 level.


In March, the GFBTU and the BCCI held a dialogue over wages. Although no wage amounts were specified, the BCCI leadership agreed that wages and the general work environment in the country – for both Bahrainis and expatriates – should be in accordance with the standards of the ILO.


“The wages must be increased very soon. Many workers are finding it difficult to provide for their families. Living with the same wages is only pushing many people into poverty,” one union leader said.


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