ILO DG sounds alarm on Bahrain workers
The Director-General of the International Labour Office, Juan
Somavia, has reiterated the grave concern he expressed in his letter of
April 1 to the Prime Minister of Bahrain at developments in the country,
in particular over reports of widespread acts of anti-trade union
discrimination against leaders and members of the General Federation of
Bahrain Trade Unions.
Director- General Somavia urges Bahraini authorities to take
immediate and firm action to ensure that workers and their unions in
Bahrain do not face any further form of unfair, unjust and degrading
treatment for having expressed their legitimate rights in accordance
with the principles of freedom of association.
In the wake of the recent wave of peaceful demonstrations which were
met by the Bahraini authorities with excessive use of force and the
declaration of a State of emergency, the ILO has received further
information about dismissals of GFBTU activists and other repressive
measures that effectively undermine its capacity to exercise its
legitimate trade union functions.
The most recent reports received from the International Trade Union
Confederation, of which the GFBTU is an affiliate, point to a further
degradation of the situation.
The ITUC says that about 300 workers have been dismissed for
participating in strikes and demonstrations. They include the dismissal
of President of the Bahrain Petroleum Company Trade Union and former
President of the GFBTU Abdul Ghaffar Abdul Hussain, as well as members
of the Executive Board of the GFBTU for "instigating workers and
employees to take part in a general strike".
He and others are also reported to face legal prosecution for the
Mass dismissals have also been reported at the Alba Aluminium
Company, the Khalifa Sea Port and Gulf Air.
The General Secretary and Vice-President of the Bahraini Teachers'
Association are amongst the six members of the organisation arrested on
March 29 and 30. Reports indicate the detention of President of the
Bahrain Nursing Society Rulla el Saffar whose whereabouts remain
The Bahrain News Agency reported today that Parliament is calling on
the Government to take immediate legal measures against the heads of
trade unions and associations who have supported the strike and to refer
them to the public prosecutors office.
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.
The GBFTU had taken a constructive attitude in inviting the workers
to return to work in the interest of the national economy and to allow
for conditions that would strengthen the basis for a national
dialogue.Given the deterioration of the situation the Director-General
has decided to organise a high level ILO mission to Bahrain to dialogue
and address with the government as well as worker and employer
organisations the reported anti-trade union acts and to promote the
process of tripartite cooperation, which is the surest path forward from
Bahrain's crisis situation.
The Director-General said that it was urgent to intensify efforts
towards the dialogue that had started between the Government of the
Kingdom of Bahrain and the key actors of society, among them worker and
Today, therefore, it is a matter of the deepest concern that to
resort to discriminatory action in contradiction with ILO Conventions
would, in addition to violating the basic rights of Bahraini workers,
undermine the conditions for genuine and successful dialogue.