Bahrain Air approves staff payout deal
Manama, February 27, 2013
Former staff at Bahrain Air will get 24 days' pay for every year they worked for the carrier, a report said, adding that they will also receive compensation for their notice period and leave until the end of February 12.
Meanwhile, expat staff will receive their indemnity payments, the Bahrain Air Trade Union (Batu) told our sister publication the Gulf Daily News (GDN) yesterday (February 26).
In addition, foreign staff with children will not have their visas cancelled until summer to avoid disrupting their children's studies.
The union announced the package had been approved following a meeting with Mourad Consultancy - which has been appointed as the liquidator - yesterday.
Batu chairman Abdull Raoof told the GDN that its request for an additional month for every year worked had not been approved.
"The union earlier asked for an extra month for every year, in addition, but it doesn't look like that has been accepted," he said.
"The liquidator implied that the extra month had been denied because it was not approved by shareholders.
"The liquidator said that the combined total for the packages under Article 111 (of the Labour Law) had been approved by shareholders, and that all the employees will get their packages when the shareholders release that money, but we don't know when that will be.
"He said he was working on it, hoping it would be done in the next few days."
However, Raoof added the union planned to take up the issue of an additional settlement with shareholders directly as compensation for the emotional and financial turmoil the 345 staff were facing.
"The union will write a letter to the shareholders requesting the extra month (for each year worked)," he said.
"We will outline that almost no staff have been in the company for the five years that it was open and so the payout should not be too substantial. There are many employees who have stood by the company and were coming to work when the country was not stable.
"These employees fought and stood by the company until the very last day and they thought they would be there in the future. There was no sign that the company would shut down and so staff took loans even days before the company went into liquidation.
"It is not like Gulf Air. We didn't have the time to prepare ourselves, to not take loans, to cover debts before the company got rid of us. Now those people may suffer legal issues because of these loans and there was no way to prevent or prepare for this. We just came in one day to find out it was our last day.
"So, as a gesture to these workers who have stood by the company all these years, we are just asking for an extra 30 days' pay for every year's employment - which is not much, but will help these employees a lot,” he added.
The GDN reported yesterday that former Bahrain Air staff with outstanding loans have had their personal bank accounts frozen, while Credimax has frozen credit cards of former employees.
More than half of the airline's employees were expats who are also facing problems travelling abroad due to visa issues.
Experts told the GDN on Monday that banks needed a court order to suspend private accounts, while credit card companies must give 15-day notice before freezing their cards.
However, Raoof said he had sought assurances that any compensation payout from the airline would not be swallowed up by banks and used to pay off staff loans.
"The liquidator talked to banks about the accounts being held and he told me that employees can go to the banks, which will deal with each case on an individual basis," said Raoof yesterday.
"I went myself in an official capacity to the banks and asked about our settlements. They said the banks would not take the whole settlement and would leave us enough - because we need to live and buy food."
Meanwhile, he added the visa problem facing expat employees was not because of Bahraini authorities but foreign governments which are reluctant to grant them entry.
"A security person from Bahrain immigration explained that Bahrain still regarded the visas issued by the company as valid," said Raoof.
"The problem is that there are countries that don't. He explained to me that the UAE is one of the countries that will not grant foreign Bahrain Air staff entry. They say because the company doesn't exist anymore, the visa is no longer valid - even though the Commercial Registration is still valid.
"They assured me that they would be working on resolving this issue. Also, it was decided that those employees with children will not have their visas cancelled until maybe July or August - allowing them to finish the school year or term." – TradeArabia News Service
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