Bahrain sackings to be reviewed
Manama, April 27, 2011
The fate of hundreds of sacked Bahraini workers will top the agenda of a meeting today between unionists and a top International Labour Organisation (ILO) official.
Director-general Juan Somavia arrived in Bahrain, heading a high-level delegation yesterday. It is also expected to approach companies that have sacked workers to hold talks.
'A tripartite committee of government officials, employers and unionists will be discussing issues related to these workers,' said a General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) spokesman.
The closed-door meeting will be attended by Labour Ministry officials, who are expected to present reports highlighting their reservations against the nationwide strike called by GFBTU.
'We are open and ready to discuss all issues with the ILO head,' the ministry's acting under-secretary Sabah Al Dossary told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
'The ministry has highlighted in the past and will once again discuss with the officials that the strike call was illegal.
'We don't mind discussing the issue related to the sacked workers. There is a process in place and each case is being evaluated. Companies are summoned if a worker is found to be unfairly dismissed.'
He stressed Bahrain's commitment to ensure all legal guarantees, including the right to lodge complaints, at a meeting with Arab Labour Organisation (ALO) director-general Ahmed Mohammed Loqman on Monday.
The GFBTU called a nationwide strike on February 20, but called it off after security forces withdrew from the Pearl Roundabout. It then announced an indefinite strike on March 13 in solidarity with anti-government protesters, after police tried to evict them from outside the Bahrain Financial Harbour.
It has listed 961 workers so far since it opened registration at its premises in Adliya on April 6.
The workers have registered to avail the monthly unemployment insurance scheme. It offers job-seekers with a university diploma or degree an assistance of BD150, while undergraduates get BD120.
Somavia on April 1 wrote to His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, expressing concerns over reports of trade union discrimination against leaders and GFBTU members.
The ILO had urged the government to ensure workers do not face any form of unfair, unjust and degrading treatment for having expressed their legitimate rights in accordance with freedom of association.
Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan last week in response said the GFBTU call for general strike was politically motivated. He said Bahrain recognised calls for professional strikes to press for labour demands, such as pay rises, reduction of work hours or better working conditions.
The Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), meanwhile, defended the measures against employees who crippled privates companies, causing massive economic losses.
'The companies have taken measures in line with laws and regulations,' first deputy chairman Ibrahim Mohammed Ali Zainal said as he received Loqman.
'Private companies decided to lay off some employees following massive loses due to the unrest,' he said, adding they also honoured those who reported to work.-TradeArabia News Service