The company chairman, Talal al-Zain, met officials at the Gulf Air Trade Union (Gatu) to discuss proposals for various improved benefits packages, including the introduction of a company pension scheme.

The union is also seeking health insurance for all employees and various social benefits such as an improved fuel allowance for staff cars.

On top of this, a pay rise across the board has been proposed. Gatu is particularly keen to bring remuneration for less senior staff up to more competitive levels.

“We are the biggest company in Bahrain but we do not have salaries on a level with other major companies in the country,” says one employee representative.

“The discussion went very well. This is just an early stage and the company has to turn around as well, we understand this. As the business gets better, we will continue talking.”

The Bahraini national carrier agreed an improved salary package for staff in 2007 after a summer of discontent following a major restructuring of the business (MEED 5:10:07).

“We want to be an employer of choice and part of that includes the right instruments, be it healthcare or social security, and that is what we are working on,” says Bjorn Naf, chief executive officer of the firm.

“We want to be a modern company with proper remuneration packages for its employees.”