Labour Research July 2011

Union news

‘Dark picture’ accompanies protests in Arab world

The upheaval in the Arab world has been accompanied by extensive violations of trade union rights and abuse of migrant labour.

So says the 2010 global survey of union violations published last month by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The report highlights “the extremely dark picture regarding trade union rights in the Arab region in 2010”.

It points to violations of union rights which took place in Tunisia and Egypt before “the weapon of large-scale strikes proved decisive in toppling dictators”.

Perhaps the worst situation is now in Bahrain. “Not only have scores of people been killed or disappeared, and hundreds been arrested, there has also been a massive wave of job losses, combined with threatened and actual violence perpetrated against workers and/or trade unionists in retaliation for their participation in strike action or their involvement in the protest movement.”

The report adds that the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU), which allied with forces calling for more democracy, is now the target of “an extremely worrying campaign of repression”.

The survey reveals that, worldwide in 2010, 90 trade unionists were murdered for their efforts defending workers’ rights.

There were also 75 recorded death threats against trade unionists, at least 2,500 arrests and around 5,000 sackings.

The survey is available to download at