A trade union law has been ratified in Bahrain on September 24, 2002, by King Shaikh Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa. The law considers strikes “a legitimate means for workers to defend their rights and interests,” reported Bahrain Tribune. The King also declared May 1, the international Labor Day, as an official holiday.
The law exempts trade unions from municipal taxes for property owned or rented by them as well as from customs duties on goods imported to serve their activities. It also stipulates that no more than one trade union shall be set up for each establishment and there will be no trade unions formed within government ministries. Nonetheless, government employees would be given the option to join other unions.
The Labor and Social Affairs ministry is currently studying a system under which workers would be able to become shareholders in state-owned companies, Minister Abdulnabi Al-Shoala told Gulf Daily News.
The law’s provisions were drafted by a committee composed of representatives from various ministries, after consulting with the General Federation of Workers Trade Unions of Bahrain (GFWTUB) and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The recently introduced Trade Union Law is considered an important step in the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to advance democratic reforms. In November 2000, Shaikh Hamad set up a committee to review plans for constitutional changes detailed in his National Action Charter, endorsed in a referendum earlier that year. In February 2001, the ruler pardoned all political prisoners and detainees, while another Amiri decree abolished the restricting State Security Law and State Security Court.
In 2001, Sheikh Hamad announced the creation of the Kingdom of Bahrain and declared himself King. He announced the restoration of parliament, for which elections will take place on October 24, 2002. The first municipal elections since 1957 were held on May 2002. The King intends to create a bicameral system, similar to the UK, with a directly elected legislative house and a consultative, appointed house. — (menareport.com)
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