Strike threat by Bahrain butchers
Manama, October 23, 2012
Angry butchers in Muharraq, Bahrain, are planning an indefinite strike from today over claims they have been sidelined in the distribution of up to 5,000 live sheep in the buildup to Eid Al Adha.
They are sharpening their knives over reports the animals have been snapped up by Islamic societies, which plan to slaughter them and sell the meat during the religious festival.
Butchers are still being supplied chilled meat by the Bahrain Livestock Company, six weeks after first threatening to go on strike over the quality of supplies.
They want to serve up the more popular fresh meat from animals that have been slaughtered in Bahrain, but there has been a shortage after the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry turned away almost 21,000 live Australian sheep at the end of August saying they were contaminated. The same animals have since been shipped to Pakistan and certified as safe by a British laboratory, while Bahrain continues to rely on chilled and frozen meat imports.
News that 5,000 animals have now been supplied to Islamic groups, rather than professional butchers, has sparked outrage in the trade and calls for compensation due to lost earnings.
"The Bahrain Livestock Company has been directed by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry to give up to 5,000 livestock, while butchers, whose trade is to sell meat, are getting chilled carcasses," said Muharraq Municipal Council vice-chairman Ali Al Muqla.
"It is the season when people want livestock and not chilled meat. When non-professionals (Islamic societies) get the privilege of getting their hands on sheep, people will tend to buy from them and not the butchers.
"I am not against Islamic societies getting sheep, but butchers should have been getting livestock too."
Butchers in Muharraq have been threatening to go on strike over the quality of meat supplies since early last month, but delayed industrial action following assurances from the government.
"Butchers have nothing more to lose and when Eid is over and normal demand reverts back to them, there will be nothing to serve as they will be on an indefinite strike," warned Al Muqla, who is also the council's consumer protection committee chairman.
"This time it is not just about meat quality, it is about compensations for the losses butchers have suffered over the past few months.”
"Butchers at the Manama, Sitra and Jidhafs central markets have been invited to strike and they need to think about it.”
"If they join, then that's up to them. If they don't, the message has been sent anyway."
Bahrain Livestock Company chairman Ibrahim Zainal said the firm had received an official order from the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry to supply only Islamic societies with up to 5,000 live sheep.
"We have not been ordered to give livestock to butchers and the official documentation from the ministry is clear," he said.
"There is no comment from our side on the strike. It is up to butchers if they want to take meat from the company or not. Nothing is being forced."
The company previously said efforts were being made to import livestock to meet increased demand over Eid, when people traditionally slaughtered sheep and shared the meat with others. – TradeArabia News Service
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