Bahrain’s Government and employers are cracking down on union leaders and activists who took part in the general strike led by the Bahrain national trade union centre GFBTU with a campaign of mass sackings, intimidation, and violence.
Despite assurances following the ending of the strike which took place between 13th March and ended 22th March, the government and employers have instigated mass sackings and arrests in a bid to smash independent and free trade union.
Estimates suggest over 1,000 workers part of the GBFTU are facing “lay-offs” including workers at Aluminium Bahrain BSC, Bahrain Telecommunications Company, Gulf Air, Bahrain Airport Services and APM Terminals Bahrain at the Khalifa Sea Port. All the sackings were due to workers being absent during the strike.
The president of the union at Bahrain Petroleum (BAPCO), Abdul Ghaffar Abdul Hussain, has been sacked for his absence during the strike and also for “inciting workers to strike”.
The company will begin a “legal prosecution” of Hussain soon. Hussain was central in the creation of the GBFTU. Many employees at BAPCO face job losses as 60% of BAPCO employees struck on 16th – 17th March.
Security forces have now closed down the GBFTU headquarters and are expected to soon call the organisation’s president, Salman Mahfooz, in for questioning. Roads leading to the union office were closed and workers were blocked from reaching the headquarters, most of those workers had been seeking guidance from their union following their sacking. The GBFTU website has been closed down. The parliament is calling on the Government to immediately refer trade union leaders involved in the strike to the public prosecution office.
All members of the GBFTU executive, spanning all industries, have been suspended from work pending investigations. On top of this attack on Bahrain’s independent trade unions, companies are now planning legal cases against the unions in a further attempt to permanently shut down free and independent trade unionism.
Over 300 activists have been arrested and many missing, and at least 20 killed since protesters took to the street in February, inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. The violent suppression of the Bahraini people’s reform protest has been helped by armed forces from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile the ILO and Global Unions have protested at the mass sacking and acts of revenge against the GBFTU and its activists.
The ICEM has written to the King of Bahrain – see letter here.
The International Transport Federation have also issued a statement of support for the GBFTU.