Bahrain - A call has gone out for the establishment of a Supreme Council for Wages to ensure fair compensation for workers in Bahrain.
The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) said it was concerned about where workers’ rights in the country were headed.
The federation, which completed 20 years since its establishment in 2002 to coincide with Labour Day yesterday, cited five major issues currently plaguing the Bahraini workforce – and offered possible solutions.
Social security, cost of living, unemployment, privatisation, and social dialogue were the main subjects of concern, it said in a statement yesterday.
“Today, the social gains attained by the Bahraini workforce are facing a real regression,” it added.
“We must remember that these gains have been achieved through the tireless struggle and strenuous efforts of our forbearers over many decades.
“To begin with, Parliament’s decision to halt the three per cent annual increase in pensions of retirees, in addition to amending some articles that affect the labour gains of retirees constitute a setback to the rights and gains enjoyed by the workers and retirees.”
The federation added that the solution to the crisis facing the Pension Fund lay not in resorting to diminishing and compromising the rights of retirees and subscribers, but rather through a prudent scientific and economic treatment that extricates and saves the fund.
It also noted its concern about raising value-added tax to 10pc, saying that the move weakened the purchasing power of all workers and worsened their living conditions.
“In the wake of the ever-increasing prices of basic commodities, not only were pensions halted, but there has also been a chronic freezing of wages in both the private and public sectors.
“GFBTU sees that the establishment of a Supreme Council for Wages is warranted to review and revise wages according to waves of inflation and high price,” it proposed.
The federation added that the Bahrainisation policy has failed to address unemployment whilst also failing to enforce minimum wage and employment equality.
“It is not acceptable that the Bahraini worker is just one of the many options in the labour market and is not considered a priority.”
The federation further stated that the privatisation of public services such as education and health has not led to the improvements promised but rather lowered the quality of these services.
“The private health sector has proved incapable of facing a major health crisis like the global pandemic, and therefore resources should be dedicated to public services instead,” said the statement.
The GFBTU stressed the importance of a national dialogue in the face of neglect and impediments experienced by collective bargaining and negotiation systems in place.
“Because dialogue is the root of trade unionism, there needs to be a constant conversation between all sections of society about how best to improve the conditions of the workforce.
“Solutions do not lie in diminishing and compromising the employees but rather by uplifting them,” concluded the federation.
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