By Geoffrey bew Published: 15th February 2008

A STRIKE at one of Bahrain's major development projects has ended, with labourers agreeing to return to work today.

A breakthrough came as hundreds of the G P Zachariades Company workers rebelled against the strike yesterday.

They walked out of their accommodation camp declaring they wanted to go back to work, even if the others did not.

Meanwhile, Labour Ministry officials helped broker a deal which means that all 1,800 strikers will go back to work today.

Around 1,300 labourers, at a G P Zachariades' labour camp at the Durrat Al Bahrain resort city project, downed tools on Saturday demanding better pay and conditions.

They were later joined by 500 workers at another of the company's camps in West Eker.

G P Zachariades company director George Zachariades confirmed yesterday that all had agreed to go back to work today in return for a review of their salaries.

He said the workers had first demanded a BD100-a-month wage, then a BD25 a month increase on their normal basic of BD57, then finally their demand came down to an extra BD15 a month.

"We are aware of the depreciation of their currencies," Mr Zachariades told the GDN.

"Within the next four working days we will review the situation and come up with our best solution.

"Those satisfied with the decision made by the board of directors shall continue and those who are not can resign and leave.

"Anyone who leaves will receive whatever they are entitled to as per their contract and the laws and regulations of Bahrain."

Mr Zachariades insisted that only half of the 1,800 workers had wanted to strike and that a group of "ringleaders had intimidated" the rest into following their lead.

"It was a small minority who were preventing the workers from going out (of the camp) to work," he said.

"The majority of people inside were being held by others and there were a lot of people who were willing to work."

Mr Zachariades said management had now "amicably" segregated the half, who were willing to work from the others, to avoid the situation being repeated.

He said those who declared they wanted to return to work yesterday, would be paid for a full 10-hour day, even though they did not work.

They could not be taken to the project site at such short notice, since there was no transport available, said Mr Zachariades.

"The strike will have an impact on the finishing time, the morale of our people and progress on one of the most prestigious projects on the island," said Mr Zachariades.

"It has also had an impact on the country that we are serving."

Managing director Stefanos G Zachariades earlier branded the strike "illegal", blaming it on an embassy announcement that India would demand a BD100 a month for all new Indian workers in Bahrain from March 1.

geoff@gdn.com.bh

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