x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Long struggle to agree terms after strike and the 'systematic ill-treatment' that followed

Bahrain's main trade union was among the first to rally workers round in February 2011.

 

Thousands to win their jobs back after international pressure

Bahrain's main trade union, the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions, was among the first to rally workers round in February 2011 when thousands of protesters gathered in Manama, inspired by popular revolts that toppled rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.

At the time, as many as 90 per cent of members from the kingdom's largest trade union agreed to go on strike and spirits were high. But almost two years later, the union has struggled to reach an agreement with the government over action taken against strikers. The government says it has exhausted all the options. The ministry of labour has set up various fact-finding committees and, under pressure from international labour organisations, it has reinstated thousands back to their original jobs.

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), completed in November last year, was among the most high-profile of these projects, and included recommendations on dismissals.

The 500-page report found that systematic ill-treatment had taken place. The report "does not conclude there has been any blanket infirmity in terms of the dismissals", said Sabah Salem Al Dossari, the undersecretary to the labour ministry.

"Rather it asked the government to assure that the dismissals were in accordance with law and international obligations.

"The government has actually gone beyond the recommendations of the BICI report, and has sought the reinstatement, re-employment or other agreed resolution for all workers absent a criminal referral," said Mr Al Dossari.

* Farah Halime