Bahrain on the Mend: A Strike is Called Off and 60,000 Students Return to School

Mar 22, 2011, 22:54 ET from Gulf Daily News

MANAMA, Bahrain, March 22, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bahrain's largest trade union yesterday canceled a nationwide strike after receiving assurances that the safety of its workers would not be compromised.

The General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU) made the decision after meeting with Shura Council chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh and Labour Ministry officials.

"We discussed several key issues workers are facing for the past few weeks, with their safety on top priority," said GFBTU secretary-general Salman Mahfoodh. "The officials said they would work towards removing all barriers that would stop any worker from resuming their duties. Based on this we decided to call off the strike and urge all workers to resume their duties today."

The federation initially called for a strike on February 20 after the Bahrain military was deployed on the streets to quell anti-government protesters.

But it was called off the same day after the tanks pulled out.

The latest strike was called at the start of last week in solidarity with protesters.

"During the meeting, we agreed some recommendations made by Labour Ministry officials mainly assuring that workers will not be targeted by anyone when they go to work," said Mr. Mahfoodh.

The federation, which represents more than 60 trade unions, was also concerned that workers would have had their salaries docked for participating in the strike.

"Employers should not deduct wages during this period," said GFBTU assistant secretary for the private sector Karim Radhi.

In other developments yesterday, approximately 60,000 students returned to school following days of closures.

Ministry officials were out in force throughout the day ensuring normal services resumed at government schools.

Education Minister Dr Majid Al Nuaimi, Under-Secretaries Shaikh Hisham bin Abdulaziz Al Khalifa and Abdulla Al Mutawa and assistant under-secretaries Nasser Mohammed Al Shaikh and Shaikha Lulwa bint Khalifa Al Khalifa were among those who carried out inspections in more than 30 schools around the country.

In the Southern and Muharraq Governorates, the ministry said attendance levels for pupils and teachers were normal. In other Governorates, attendance was lower but was expected to return to normal in the coming days. Education officials expect near capacity by Sunday.

SOURCE Gulf Daily News