Bahrain labour ministry helps sacked F1 staff


Bahrain's ministry of labour has intervened in the wake of complaints from more than 20 sacked employees of the venue for the Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The workers were among 1,600 Bahrainis summarily dismissed during widespread protests against the government of King Hamad Bin Isa al-Khalifa last year.
Two weeks ago, a royal decree ordered firms like the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) to reinstate them.
But several BIC workers did not return, saying their new contracts were unfair.
They said the contracts failed to restore lost pay and benefits, and that they were also being asked to drop cases brought for unfair dismissal.
Contracts 'still valid'
A spokesman for the labour ministry, Mohammed Ali al-Ansari, told the BBC that its officials had intervened on the employees' behalf.
Mr Ansari said the ministry had always taken the position that the sackings were unfair, and that BIC's managers had been "very co-operative" at a meeting on Sunday.
"We told the company that there was no need for the workers to sign new contracts; the old contracts are still valid," he explained.
And on the issue of lost wages and benefits, Mr Ansari said BIC had agreed to work with their employees to resolve outstanding claims.
"The ministry of labour will work very hard to ensure that [the employees] will not lose anything," he added.
Regarding allegations that the workers were arrested at their desks, taken to a local police station and beaten, Mr Ansari said those matters were the responsibility of the ministry of the interior.
BIC says they were dismissed in April after they did not show up for work. The employees say they could not get to work because of the protests.