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Action urged over audit report claims.


UNIONISTS at one of Bahrain's biggest companies have threatened to take a report that documents serious alleged violations to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Alba Trade Union (ATU) plans to report the findings of the Financial Audit Bureau, which includes allegations of wrongdoing at various ministries, government bodies and state-owned companies.

However, the move has drawn criticism from the Alba Labour Union (ALU), a body that represents more than 2,500 employees, which has accused the ATU of "politicising" the government report.

The document, which was presented to parliament last week, states that Alba did not reveal salaries of its board members and instead recorded the money as other payments, and gave 330 employees a 170 per cent payrise during 2013.

It also alleged that the company's smelter has not been maintained in 112 sections since January 2010, despite being issued 1,000 warnings.

The report details weaknesses in monitoring spending of millions of dinars on foreign mission and spending BD2.1 million as loans to employees without payback guarantee.

"We aim to spread our message which highlights the corruption recorded in the government report among local, regional and international bodies, including the International Labour Organisation," said ATU co-ordinator Mohammed Musaed, whose organisation represents more than 600 workers.

"Not many people, even Bahrainis, know much about the corruption and our Press statement will not be enough to spread the word, hence we are resorting to social media like Twitter.

"We are trying to draw the attention of ILO to the matter as the international organisation was involved in forming a tripartite committee in resolving the dismissed workers' file.

"They also need to know that apart from the finance, Alba's management is biased in its dealing with trade unions."

However, ALU media and public relations representative Abdulla Al Moaraj said government officials should be the ones to tackle the alleged corruption uncovered in the report, and not international rights bodies.

"Corruption exists everywhere as recorded in the report -- it is also there in ministries and various other government bodies," he told the GDN.

"The corruptions recorded, like all other violations noted in the report, have been submitted to the relevant authorities and ultimately will be dealt with by the rulers of the country.

"ATU is trying to politicise the issue by unnecessarily exaggerating it as they have an agenda to project only the negatives of the company.

"It is unfortunate that the ATU failed in congratulating the company's achievements in terms of production and sales growth, and employees' partnership in these merits."

Alba officials said they had "no comment" when contacted by the GDN yesterday.

The ALU operates under the banner of the Bahrain Free Labour Union Federation (Al Hurr), while the ATU comes under the umbrella of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Union.

The GDN reported last week that MPs launched their own probe into violations recorded in the report, which was presented to parliament by bureau chief Hassan Al Jalahma.

Among the alleged offenders are the Information Affairs Authority, the Health Ministry and the National Health Regulatory Authority, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry, Tamkeen and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, in addition to the now-dissolved Culture Ministry.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jan 13, 2015
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