Confusion over Gulf Air layoff strategy
Manama, February 6, 2013
Unionists are demanding answers amid claims that 120 Gulf Air staff working abroad have lost their jobs and growing uncertainty surrounding voluntary redundancy packages.
A lack of official confirmation has created an atmosphere of confusion and frustration, according to the Gulf Air Trade Union (Gatu).
It also accused airline management of using pressure tactics to try and coerce staff into signing deals now instead of waiting while it negotiates better packages, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
Gulf Air last month launched a three-year strategy to cut jobs, simplify its fleet and change its destination network.
It hopes to achieve cost savings of 24 per cent by the end of the year and reduce the airline's loses from BD95 million to BD58 million a year by 2017.
No figures have been given about possible job cuts, but it is understood up to 1,800 staff could be laid off as part of a BD185 million government bailout.
Gatu spokesman Mohammad Mahdi said it is understood 120 foreign workers from nine of the company's overseas offices, including Baghdad, had lost their jobs.
But he said the union was being forced to rely on rumours as they had received no official documents from Gulf Air.
"We want to be able to say these things as a certainty but cannot despite making numerous requests to the management," he told the GDN.
"The company is not being transparent with us, a union representing over 1,000 of its staff members, and it is causing nothing but frustration."
Mahdi said staff was growing increasingly frustrated at the situation.
"First they (the airline) said everyone would get 12 days' additional salary for every year they worked, now they are saying that they will get 19 days for every year worked, which is better than the original offer but still very low," he said.
Gulf Air last night hit back at claims staff were not being kept informed, but did not provide details of the redundancy scheme to the GDN.
"The details of the VRS (voluntary redundancy scheme) package were communicated to all employees through internal communication memos with accompanying question and answers as well as through a series of town hall meetings," it said in a statement.
"In addition, an employee portal was set up providing a communication platform for all employees where they can ask questions regarding the restructuring and receive an answer within 24 hours.”
"The portal is regularly updated so that employees can get the latest information.”
"We fully understand the sentiments of employees going through difficult times during this restructuring process.”
"However, we are fully committed to transparency and keeping employees informed of the progress made,” it said.
"The restructuring once complete, will see a more dynamic and efficient national carrier, reinforcing its position as a key national infrastructure asset, that will continue to serve Bahrain and its customers." – TradeArabia News Service
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