4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Bahrain

The ITUC affiliate in Bahrain is the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU).

In practice

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Ports union leader dismissed11-11-2015

Khalil Ibrahim Fardan, president of the General Union of Port Workers in Bahrain (GUPWB), was dismissed on 11 November by APM Terminals, Bahrain. The company claimed his dismissal was due to “work practices” but Mr. Fardan had been previous targeted by the company due to his trade union work, and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) believed that his dismissal was aimed at preventing him performing his role as a union leader. The International Federation of Transport Workers (ITF) met with the company’s management a week later to try to overturn the decision, but to no avail.

Teachers’ union still facing repression04-04-2016

Jalila al-Salman, vice-president of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA), warns that teachers can no longer carry out union activities as they used to, ever since a crackdown on the union in 2011. She and Mahdi Abu Dheeb, president of the BTA, were both imprisoned in 2011 for organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. strikes by teachers, and were tortured and humiliated in prison. Jalila was released after six months but is banned from working as teacher and her freedom of speech is heavily curtailed. She was however allowed to travel to Norway in June 2015 to receive the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights, awarded annually by Industri Energi, a Norwegian trade union. Mahdi Abu Dheeb, who had been sentenced to five years, was unable to join her because he was still in prison at the time. He was finally released on 4 April 2016, but his health has suffered as a consequence. In the meantime, the situation has not improved for teachers who face punishment simply for trying to enter into collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
says Jalila. Teachers can be transferred from their workplace simply for belonging to the BTA or if the authorities suspect the union might help them.

May Day celebrations banned30-04-2015

On 30 April 2015 the government banned all May Day rallies, forcing the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) to abruptly cancel its weekend celebrations. The federation had planned a rally, medical camps, family outings and award ceremonies focusing on the rights of women and migrant workers in the workplace. Thousands were expected to attend the rally, including members of more than 45 GFBTU-affiliated trade unions.

Migrant workers threatened with deportation09-02-2015

In June 2014, about 2,000 workers employed at the garment factory Riffa, which produces clothing for brands such as Macy’s, C&A, GAP, JC Penney and Walmart, went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
against low and unpaid wages as well as poor working conditions. Workers, mostly from India and Bangladesh, gathered at the company’s factory in Hajiyat and submitted 12 demands calling for better pay, food and medical care. Currently, workers earn about BD55 (US$ 145) a month. The Labour Ministry issued a statement declaring the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
illegal and announced that legal action, including deportation, would be undertaken against workers who refused to return to work.

Workers have not been reinstated12-08-2013

While the tripartite committee was able to reinstate a significant number of all dismissed workers who participated in pro-democracy demonstrations, according to the GFBTU, as many as 657 workers have still not been reinstated since the 2011 events, including trade union leaders. Furthermore, among those reinstated, some were rehired with inferior conditions and job statuses and on lower pay to those jobs they held prior to their dismissal.

Union leaders in jail25-11-2012

On 21 October 2011, the Court of Appeal upheld the guilty verdict issued against the BTA leaders on 25 September 2011 for allegedly attempting to overthrow the ruling system by force and inciting hatred of the regime. The prison sentences were reduced to five years for Mahdi Abu Dheeb and six months for Jalila al-Salman. The lawyers of the BTA leaders filed an objection to the Supreme Court regarding the verdict.

On 7 November 2012, Jalila al-Salman, who had been released on bail, was summoned without explanation to the Investigation Department in Manama to serve the remaining time of her 6-month prison term. She was transferred to the Isa Town Women’s Prison. Her lawyer and family were not allowed to accompany or contact her. Jalila al-Salman was finally released from prison on 25 November after serving her prison term. Mahdi Abu Dheeb is still serving a 5-year prison term. A final appeal is still pending.

Reliable reports indicate that both Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila al-Salman were tortured in detention. Dheeb is also suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as heart and stomach problems.

Acts of interference by the government12-08-2013

It is believed that the government has recently backed the creation of an alternative and rival federation, Bahrain Labour Union Free Federation (BLUFF), to undermine the GFBTU as a legitimate, representative and democratic organisation. The BLUFF leadership, with a number of pro-government columnists and pro-government parliament members; has been spearheading a fierce defamation campaign against the GFBTU. These campaigns have accused the GFBTU leadership of treason, defaming Bahrain’s image, and of being led by a foreign agenda. Recently, the BLUFF organised a rally outside a UN building in which the GFBTU, ITUC and ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
were denounced. In some cases, collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
with GFBTU affiliates has been stopped without justification and been replaced by negotiations with management-backed trade unions.

Infringement of basic rights and anti-union discrimination12-08-2013

Workers who had participated in the “Pearl Roundabout protests” have been systematically dismissed by their employers. The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) stated that employers are refusing to reinstate workers under their previous contracts but are instead forcing them to sign new contracts.

All public financial support for the GFBTU was stopped, while the Chamber of Commerce and the Bahraini employers’ association continue to receive funding. A total of 55 GFBTU trade union leaders have been dismissed.

On 1 May 2012, riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades at World Labour Day protesters in Manama as they demanded the release of the jailed leaders of the 2011 uprising.

Mahdi Issa Abu Dheeb and Jalila Al-Salman, from the Bahraini Teachers Association (BTA), were arrested in 2011 for participating in pro-democracy demonstrations. They remain in detention.

Striking migrant construction workers forced to leave01-07-2010

Hundreds of construction workers went on a two-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
at the start of July to protest underpayment and poor living conditions. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
was called off after the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
leaders reportedly agreed to leave Bahrain and return home. The company director said that 10 men who had been “instigating the workers” to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
had agreed to voluntarily leave the country and return home while complaints about living conditions, wages and overtime would be looked into. However, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society stated that the men had feared they were made into scapegoats and would be victimised if they stayed at work, so they had little choice but to accept repatriation despite their right to protest.

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