Labor Unions Blast Rights Violations in Bahrain
A coalition of several human rights, labor, and advocacy organizations has sent an open letter to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, urging her to release the findings of an investigation her department conducted into Bahrain’s compliance with its worker rights obligations under the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The AFL-CIO had filed a formal complaint over a year ago, alleging violations of fundamental labor rights of Bahraini trade unionists, health care workers, and teachers, which the Department of Labor agreed to examine. The complaint also called on the U.S. to cancel the trade agreement due to these violations.
The FTA reaffirms both countries’ commitments under the International Labor Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles at Work and Follow-Up, which includes the right of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively. Regarding the department’s investigation of possible violations, “It is incumbent that the U.S. Government issue its findings immediately,” the letter says, “restating the USG’s commitment to these universal labor and human rights principles, and both countries’ obligations to respect core labor rights under the bilateral FTA.