Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Young are the Heart of the Movement


With the words 'the young are the heart of the movement' Salman Jaffar Al Mahfoodh, General Secretary of the General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU) identifies what lays at the heart of the revolt and resistance in Bahrain.

The ITUC is calling upon trade unions and trade unionists globally to support the efforts of the GFBTU, as part of a wider civil society coalition, in resisting a vicious assault on its members and on workers, and citizens, in Bahrain.

Details of the current situation for the labour movement in Bahrain can be seen via this link and you will also see ways in which you can provide moral and practical support:

In urging your support the ITUC is unequivocal about the threat posed to trade unionists:

The people of Bahrain are living in a state of fear of further killings and other violence, arbitrary detention, and loss of their livelihoods. Bahrain is sliding into absolute dictatorship, and the elimination of trade union activity is being given a high priority by those in the ruling circles who intend to complete the transformation of the country into a totalitarian state.

Please do all you can to support the ITUC's campaign and forward the link to the ITUC material to as many trade union (and allied) friends and colleagues as you can.

In Solidarity



John Clements said...

Good piece Ian,

Can I add an extract I came across recently:

"Bahrain’s Government and employers are cracking down on union leaders and activists who took part in the general strike led by the Bahrain national trade union centre GFBTU with a campaign of mass sackings, intimidation, and violence.

Despite assurances following the ending of the strike which took place between 13th March and ended 22th March, the government and employers have instigated mass sackings and arrests in a bid to smash independent and free trade union.

Estimates suggest over 1,000 workers part of the GBFTU are facing “lay-offs” including workers at Aluminium Bahrain BSC, Bahrain Telecommunications Company, Gulf Air, Bahrain Airport Services and APM Terminals Bahrain at the Khalifa Sea Port. All the sackings were due to workers being absent during the strike.

The president of the union at Bahrain Petroleum (BAPCO), Abdul Ghaffar Abdul Hussain, has been sacked for his absence during the strike and also for “inciting workers to strike”.

The company will begin a “legal prosecution” of Hussain soon. Hussain was central in the creation of the GBFTU. Many employees at BAPCO face job losses as 60% of BAPCO employees struck on 16th – 17th March.

Security forces have now closed down the GBFTU headquarters and are expected to soon call the organisation’s president, Salman Mahfooz, in for questioning. Roads leading to the union office were closed and workers were blocked from reaching the headquarters, most of those workers had been seeking guidance from their union following their sacking. The GBFTU website has been closed down. The parliament is calling on the Government to immediately refer trade union leaders involved in the strike to the public prosecution office.

All members of the GBFTU executive, spanning all industries, have been suspended from work pending investigations. On top of this attack on Bahrain’s independent trade unions, companies are now planning legal cases against the unions in a further attempt to permanently shut down free and independent trade unionism.

Over 300 activists have been arrested and many missing, and at least 20 killed since protesters took to the street in February, inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. The violent suppression of the Bahraini people’s reform protest has been helped by armed forces from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile the ILO and Global Unions have protested at the mass sacking and acts of revenge against the GBFTU and its activists."

Will forward the ITUC request for assistance to my regional council.



ShopSteward85 said...

Hello Ian,

Thanks for posting this item - this is a serious international issue and one we must highligh and support.

UNISON publicised the campaign and provided a link to Labourstart -

Keep up the good work.

In solidarity.


Emiliano Zapata said...

Follow the guidance from CPGB -

Bahrain: Saudi mercenaries cannot stop the revolution. The images of wave after wave of demonstrators in the Bahraini capital Manama hurling themselves at the serried ranks of armed riot police on 13 March, their courage undiminished by the spectacular brutality dished out at close quarters by these hired thugs of the US-backed Khalifa regime, served notice to the world that this Arab revolution is not to be faced down by any amount of armed force, however sophisticated the weaponry with which the repressive forces have been so liberally supplied by the US (in 2008) and the UK (in 2010).

The long-predicted response of these vile kleptocrats – calling in the aid of over a thousand Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) mercenaries and their tanks – will fare no better, serving only to deepen the anger of the people of Bahrain and spread the revolt right back into Saudi Arabia itself.

The desperation of the monarchy was already on stark display a month earlier. On 14 February, police killed one protester and injured another 25. Three days later, the police invaded the Pearl Roundabout, where many thousands of demonstrators had established a peaceful tent city to protest against unemployment, hunger and political repression.

Without warning, the police opened fire on the sleeping protesters. In the space of a few short days, at least six died and hundreds more suffered horrific injuries, with police in some cases preventing ambulances from ferrying the wounded to hospital. Doctors reported that many had been wounded by shotgun blasts. One of the young men killed had 200 birdshot pellets in his chest and arms, and others were black and blue from beatings with police clubs or from the impact of rubber bullets.

Others had their skulls cracked. Yet this accelerating brutality, rather than subduing the wildfire spread of Arab revolt, in fact served to fan its flames. The massacre on 17 February ratcheted tension up yet further, sending alarm bells jangling in Washington.

It has been the prolonged suppression of Arab national-economic and political development across the Middle East and North Africa by imperialism, a suppression carried out by local stooge regimes on behalf of the West, that has for so long prepared the combustible materials currently igniting in social revolt.

Now the threatened loss of that network of comprador rule, a network laboriously stitched together by US imperialism when its prestige in the world was far higher than it is today, marks a sickening downward lurch in the spiral of imperialist crisis. With the failure of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan compounding its economic woes, the US is desperate to claw back some advantage from the turmoil in the Arab world.

Ian Manborde said...

Hello John,

Many thanks for posting that extract - can you give a reference e.g. the weblink you were at to copy/paste the text?



Araf Zeinab said...

A very interesting piece, I was not aware at all of the situation for the labour movement in Bahrain. Recently I have been paying more attention to the situation in Libya.

I have read through the material on the ITUC web-site. I belong not to a trade union organisation in the UK but I follow many developments at the international level.

I found this piece very interesting and would like to visit your blog on a regular basis.

Thank you

Ian Manborde said...

Hello Araf,

Many thanks for your helpful contribution to the debate on the piece I posted about the situation of the trade union movement in Bahrain. Although, as you say, you are not part of a labour movement, please still forward details of the ITUC campaign to any political or NGO organisation you are familiar with, as we can work jointly to raise the profile of the regime's attack on the workers of Bahrain.

Many thanks


Jas said...

Ian - the world is on fire it seems. First, Egypt and now Libya and even that bastard Bin Laden is part of the global picture of turmoil.

It's diffcult to keep on top of this - keep up the good work brother!

I'll do what I can do with the details of the ITUC Bahrain campaign.

See you soon.


Jenni Ashton said...

Thanks Ian - will forward to the chair of our regional committee. Jen