Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bahrain: Agreement Signed by Government of Bahrain and Trade Union on Worker Reinstatement Issues: ILO Supports Effort

SOURCE Kingdom of Bahrain

After weeks of intense efforts by the Government to resolve the issue of worker reinstatements, a breakthrough agreement was signed on March 11, 2012 by Minister of Labor Jameel Humaidan, the President of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU), Salman Almahfoudh, and Othman Sharif, Vice-President of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The agreement was supported by representatives of the International Labor Organization (ILO) led by the Director of the International Labor Standards Department, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry.

In the agreement all parties recognize the progress made on the reinstatements of workers dismissed, and lay out additional agreed steps to resolve the remaining reinstatement issues. The agreement also is the result of a national tripartite committee process chaired by the Ministry of Labor that was launched in December to resolve the reinstatement issues following a complaint filed by international trade union delegates with the International Labor Organization in June 2011.

It is expected that the agreement reached will be the basis for further national action on any remaining reinstatement points. Likewise, the results of the national tripartite process and this agreement should also support and strengthen the Kingdom of Bahrain's position internationally.

"I am very encouraged by this agreement," said Minister of Labor Jameel Humaidan. "It is further clear evidence that open and constructive dialogue is the best approach for moving forward in Bahrain. The government has shown an enormous commitment to work through these very difficult issues. And while the discussions with the GFBTU have been intense and we have respectful areas of difference, the decision of the GFBTU to sign this agreement and reach a shared vision on the path forward is of deep importance for all Bahrainis. I also want to recognize the important contribution shown by the BCCI in making this agreement possible."

"There is also no doubt that this agreement is an important reflection of the vision of His Majesty the King that no matter what errors were made at a moment of national difficulty it is best for all if our people remain at work and that we all work together to make this a reality. This result would also not have been achieved without the crucial support of His Royal Highness the Prime Minister, and many other officials in the government."

The agreement reached recognizes that in the state-invested sector all of the 1,520 workers who had been dismissed have been reinstated or are in the process of reinstatement, and that the Government remains committed to assure that those reinstatements occur on schedule with reintegration plans to be completed by April 1.

The agreement also takes into account that the precise numbers of workers dismissed and reinstated in the rest of the private sector and civil service remain to be fully reconciled between the Government and GFBTU, but that most workers from the civil service and other government employees that were dismissed are now back on the job. The parties to the agreement will work together to resolve these remaining cases, and to secure the appropriate reinstatements where possible, other re-employment opportunities, or compensation as merited.

Finally, and importantly, the Minister of Labor and other parties welcomed the commitment of the ILO to provide additional technical assistance and capacity building on workplace relations and international Labor standards.