US requests talks over Bahrain labour crackdown

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share

The United States has accused Bahrain of failing to protect workers' rights in its response to a March 2011 general strike at the time of the Arab Spring and asked for formal consultations under a free trade pact.

"Ensuring that workers in Bahrain - and in other countries - can exercise their fundamental labour rights is a top priority for the Obama Administration," acting US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said in a statement.

Bahrain, a small island country in off the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

Washington's request for talks came about two years after the AFL-CIO, the largest US labour organisation, first complained that the Bahrain government's brutal crackdown on the general strike violated commitments to protect workers' rights under the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, which went into force in 2006.

The US Labour Department issued a report in December, some 20 months after the general strike, that faulted the Bahrain government for the actions it took.

"In the widespread dismissals after the March 2011 general strike, trade unionists and leaders were targeted for firing and, at times, criminal prosecution for their role in the strike, and Shia workers and political critics of the government faced discrimination," the US report said.

"The reinstatement process for these dismissed workers has raised additional concerns of violations of freedom of association and political and sectarian-based discrimination against Shia workers, which reflect the larger context of a deteriorating labor rights environment in Bahrain," it said.

Talks between the two countries are expected to begin within 30 days, unless both sides agree to a delay.

"My sincere hope is that these consultations will produce a concrete plan of action, based on the recommendations in the Labour Department's report that will strengthen labor protections in Bahrain and help prevent violations of workers' rights," said acting Labor Secretary Seth Harris.

A spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative's office said the United States was optimistic that the talks with Bahrain "will yield a satisfactory outcome."

If not, the next step would be to convene a joint US-Bahrain subcommittee on labour affairs, which could turn to a mediator or conciliator to resolve differences, she said.

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: petty comment

I see confusion between the protection of worker's rights, for which a trade union is established and is legitimate, and wholesale civil disobedience which is why the Bahrain general strike was called.

But who am I to say that the almighty U S of A could get it wrong?

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

From currency woes to taxation loopholes closing and a clampdown...

2
Q&A with Dubai Chamber

Q&A with Dubai Chamber

We spoke with Essa Al Zaabi of Dubai Chamber of Commerce to find...

The politics of big data

The politics of big data

The UAE may be one of the fastest adopters of e-government initiatives...

Most Discussed
  • 23
    World's most pierced man refused entry to the UAE

    Tolerance has its limits everywhere including Dubai and those who considered Dubai a lawless circus were held accountable...so thank you Dubai authorities... more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 10:51 PM - Khalil
  • 16
    Baby NOT on board?

    The people commenting here were all 20 years old when they were born, never cried, never screamed and never ran etc etc.
    more

    Thursday, 21 August 2014 8:30 AM - Amer
  • 14
    Undercover Dubai cops arrest more than 20,000 beachgoers in 2yrs

    Well these days there are even men ogling men and propositioning to men on the beach, its high time the Undercover Dubai cops also protect men beachgoers... more

    Wednesday, 20 August 2014 9:00 AM - Kevin Brinson