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Bahrain Submission Under U.S.-Bahrain FTA

United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement

On May 6, 2013, the U.S. Government formally requested cooperative labor consultations with Bahrain in a joint letter from the Acting Secretary of Labor and the U.S. Trade Representative. Consultations began when an interagency delegation met with the Government of Bahrain on July 15 and 16, 2013. Consultations continued in Manama on June 22 and 23, 2014, and our ongoing dialogue with the Government of Bahrain uses the DOL report's recommendations as a basis for working with the Government of Bahrain to address the concerns raised in the report related to freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the right to freedom from discrimination in employment and occupation.

In April 2011, the Department of Labor (DOL) received a submission from the AFL-CIO with a statement from the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions alleging that Bahrain had violated its commitments under the Labor Chapter of the Bahrain – United States Free Trade Agreement regarding the right of association, particularly non-discrimination against trade unionists.

The review process was extended to adequately consider detailed and voluminous information received from the Government of Bahrain and Bahraini workers, amendments to the Bahraini Trade Union Law, and labor-related developments in international fora regarding Bahrain, in particular at the International Labor Organization. In addition, two delegations visited Bahrain in October 2011 and February 2012 as part of the review.

After reviewing the submission, DOL issued a public report in December 2012 finding that trade unionists and leaders were targeted for dismissal, and in some cases prosecuted, in part for their role in organizing and participating in the March 2011 general strike, and that dismissals also reflected discrimination based, in part, on political opinion and activities. The report also finds religious (sectarian) discrimination against Shia workers. The report also makes specific recommendations intended to serve as a road map for the Consultation process moving forward.

More Information

Learn More: ILAB in Bahrain | Labor Rights & Free Trade Agreements