Bahrain under martial law as unions call General Strike

The TUC has joined unions around the world in protesting against martial law and violent repression of peaceful protests in Bahrain. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to Bahrain's Ambassador.

The trade union movement in Bahrain has started a general strike in protest against the repression of popular protest and what they call an occupation of Bahrain by forces from neighbouring states. The TUC has protested to Bahrain's Ambassador, as part of a global union solidarity campaign, about the subsequent announcement of martial law; and the TUC is collecting money to help trade unionists across the Middle East and North Africa.

The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) is independent of the state, and like the TUC is affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The GFBTU is also non-sectarian: it has two Assistant General Secretaries, one Sunni, one Shia, to ensure that the unions do not get caught up in the religious conflict between Bahrain's Sunni minority (including the country's rulers) and the poor Shia majority.

The general strike, which is particularly affecting the main oil company in Bahrain, was called in response to the excessive use of force by anti-riot police in the centre of the capital Manama and the violent attacks on university students on Sunday 13 March. The subsequent announcement of martial law has been condemned.

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