Bahrain union to highlight economic issues
Manama, June 21, 2011
Bahrain’s largest trade union will participate in the National Dialogue next month and aims to highlight social and economic issues.
The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) will also put the reinstatement of more than 1,900 Bahraini workers sacked during the unrest high on the agenda.
'We have received an invitation to participate in the National Dialogue,' confirmed a spokesman for the federation, which is associated with around 70 trade unions with more than 20,000 members.
'Our union board members are presently discussing the main issues for inclusion in the agenda. 'The sacking of workers will be certainly raised in the national dialogue as it is an important issue for the trade unions.'
The National Dialogue, which begins on July 1, will focus on four main issues namely - social, political, economic and rights, as revealed in invitations sent out by National Dialogue head and parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani to political societies and opposition groups.
According to the documents, political societies can nominate five people to take part, while civil society organisations can nominate a single person.
Forty Shura Council members and 22 MPs will also attend the dialogue.
The GFBTU spokesman said that the union board had yet to reach consensus on who would represent it, but said the chances of secretary-general Salman Mahfoodh being selected were high.
Board members are holding a series of meetings to prepare the organisation's agenda to be submitted by Thursday.
This is also the last date for all participating groups to submit draft agendas.
'We will be focusing on social and economic issues in the National Dialogue,' said the spokesman.
'It will cover several topics such as wages, unemployment, freedom to form unions in public sector and rights of migrant workers among other issues.'
The spokesman revealed trade union heads in some private companies were also sent dialogue invitations.
'The federation will be liaising with the trade union heads to reach consensus in their agenda,' he added.
The GFBTU is an umbrella organisation for all trade unions in the country, but aligned itself with a coalition of seven political opposition groups shortly after anti-government protests started.
A strike was first called by the GFBTU on February 20, but was called off after security forces withdrew from the former GCC (Pearl) Roundabout on the orders of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander.
However, the GFBTU announced an indefinite strike on March 13 in solidarity with anti-government protesters, after police tried to move on demonstrators who blocked a major highway outside Bahrain Financial Harbour.
Meanwhile, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society (BHRWS) yesterday invited the public to share their views with them ahead of the dialogue.
'It is important for migrant workers group and other civil society organisations to send us their feedback,' said BHRWS secretary-general Faisal Fulad. 'Their views will be incorporated in our agenda which we would submit by Thursday for the National Dialogue.' – TradeArabia News Service