ISSN 2330-717X

Bahrain: UN Official Voices Concern Over Anti-Trade Union Actions


The head of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) has reiterated his concern over continuing reports of anti-trade union actions in Bahrain, including discrimination against leaders and members of the country’s federation of workers’ unions.

In a statement issued yesterday, Juan Somavia, the ILO Director-General said he has urged the Bahraini authorities, in a letter to the Prime Minister on Friday, to ensure that workers and their unions do not face any further forms of “unfair, unjust and degrading treatment for having expressed their legitimate rights in accordance with the principles of freedom of association.”


Mr. Somavia said that recent peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain have been met with excessive use of force by the authorities, who also declared a state of emergency. He said the ILO has received further information about dismissals of activists of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) and other repressive measures that effectively undermine the federation’s capacity to function.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has received information that about 300 workers have been dismissed for participating in strikes and demonstrations, according to Mr. Somavia’s statement.

Those sacked include Abdul Ghaffar Abdul Hussain, the president of the Bahrain Petroleum Company Trade Union and former president of the GFBTU, and members of the GFBTU executive board for allegedly “instigating workers and employees to take part in a general strike”. Mr. Hussein and his colleagues reportedly also face prosecution.

Mass dismissals have also been reported at the Alba Aluminium Company, the Khalifa Sea Port and Gulf Air, according to ILO.

The General Secretary and vice-president of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association are amongst the six members of the organization arrested on 29 and 30 March, and reports indicate that Rulla el- Saffar, president of the Bahrain Nursing Society, whose whereabouts remain unknown, has been detained.

“All this information is extremely alarming, in particular as the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions had called on workers to return to work and had been given assurances by State officials that they will not face any punitive measures for their participation in strikes,” said Mr. Somavia in the press release.

The Director-General has decided to organize a high level ILO mission to Bahrain “as soon as possible” to discuss the anti-trade union actions with the Government, workers and employer organizations, the statement added.

Mr. Somavia had on 15 March urged the Bahraini Government to intensify effor

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