Bahrain sees early end to unrest labour issue
Manama, January 8, 2014
Bahrain expects to meet a March deadline set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to resolve the issue of workers sacked in connection with the 2011 unrest, said a senior government official.
Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan told MPs yesterday (January 7) that the matter would be closed "very soon", reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
Around 4,600 people lost their jobs in 2011 after they failed to show up for work so they could take part in demonstrations, were arrested on suspicion of criminal activities or took part in strikes called by trade unionists sympathetic to the opposition movement.
Some claim they were dismissed for no reason.
The government says more than 98.68 per cent have since been reinstated or found work elsewhere, with the remainder either refusing to accept jobs they have been offered or taking their case to court.
Humaidan denied that information about the subject was being hidden from the public, but said it was still under consultation with international experts.
"I am a member of a government team following up the issue with the ILO and very soon the complaint will be closed, as we are working with labour unions' representatives and businessmen to end it," said Humaidan.
"Around 98 per cent of those dismissed from their jobs during the unrest have been reinstated.
"The issue for us is closed, but the ILO still considers it valid and that's mainly because there are three separate bodies that look into the case.
"We want to clear Bahrain's name, which has been inserted unfairly, and we have a deadline until March to go to the three bodies to tell them that the thing has been resolved."
The minister said a draft agreement had been sent to the ILO, but it had been rejected. "I thought what was included was enough, but it needs more review now," he said.
He also denied that the Bahrain Free Labour Union Federation had been sidelined from the process -- explaining that it was not involved because it didn't even exist when a complaint was made against Bahrain to the ILO.
The organisation was formed at the end of 2012, effectively splitting Bahrain's labour union movement in two.
It was formed by workers unhappy at the involvement of the existing General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) - previously the umbrella organisation representing all Bahraini trade unions - in the unrest during 2011, when it called for a series of strikes designed to cripple the economy and heap pressure on the government.
"The ILO invites parties and we were invited alongside representatives from GFBTU," said Humaidan. "The other federation was not (invited) because it is not involved in the issue in the eyes of the ILO." – TradeArabia News Service