The Tunisian General Union of Labor (UGTT) and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU)—two unions whose struggles are emblematic of labor’s role in the Arab uprisings—received the 2012 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award in a ceremony last night at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C.
UGTT General Secretary Hassine Abassi and GFBTU General Secretary S. Salman Jaddar Al Mahfoodh received the awards for their respective labor movements.
Workers' issues, such as high unemployment and lack of opportunity, declining living standards and the arrogant abuse of political and economic power by the corrupt few, spurred the Arab uprisings; and unions and workers’ rights activists were engaged in some of the most important union organizing in the region’s history.
The 2012 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award will honor the Tunisian General Union of Labor (UGTT) and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU)—two unions whose struggles over the past year are emblematic of labor’s role in the Arab uprisings, the AFL-CIO Executive Council announced at its annual winter meeting in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
One year ago today, a peaceful demonstration massed in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, with tens of thousands of men, women and children joining the call for greater social justice in their country. By exercising their rights to free speech and free assembly, the brave protesters provided their government with the chance to address issues of equality and democracy.
The AFL-CIO today applauded the U.S. Department of Labor’s decision to accept its complaint regarding the government of Bahrain’s failure to live up to its trade agreement commitments with respect to workers’ rights.
The union movement around the world and in the United States is calling on the government of Bahrain to lift its state of emergency and halt its the all-out attack against union members.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reports that thousands of workers have been dismissed for taking part in trade union activities in support of the peaceful calls for greater democracy and reform. More than 750 union members and half of the leaders of the General Federation of Bahraini Trade Unions (GFBTU) also have been dismissed from their jobs.