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Bahrain firms fire hundreds of workers who joined protests

Posted by on April 6, 2011 0 Comment

Bahraini firms have fired hundreds of workers who went on strike to support pro-democracy protesters, part of a government crackdown, an opposition group said on Tuesday.

Bahrain’s unions called a general strike on March 13 to support protesters against government who for weeks occupied a square in the capital until security forces moved in on March 16.

The strike was called off on March 22.

Officials at Batelco, Gulf Air, Bahrain Airport Services and APM Terminals Bahrain said they had laid off more than 200 workers due to absence during the strike.

“It’s illegal in Bahrain and anywhere else in the world to just strike. You have to give two weeks’ notice to your employer,” said one executive who did not wish to be named.

Bahrain’s main opposition group, Wefaq, said it estimated that more than 1,000 workers had been laid off.

“Unemployment has its effects on social relationships, the well-being of the society,” said group member Jasim Husain.

Government officials could not be reached for comment on the arrests.

Bahrain has increased its arrests of bloggers and activists, with more than 300 detained and dozens missing since last month’s crackdown on the pro-democracy protests.

After security forces crushed the protests, the government launched a crackdown on opposition activists and media such as the only opposition newspaper, Al-Wasat.

It suspended the newspaper on Sunday, accusing it of falsifying news about the unrest, replaced the editor and resumed printing on Monday, the same day it arrested and expelled two journalists, both Iraqis.

A government spokeswoman said Al Wasat had broken press laws.

More lay-offs are expected at Bahrain Petroleum (Bapco) which has fired the head of its workers’ union. Workers fear that hundreds could be fired at the company after parliament launched an investigation headed by a hard-line deputy.

“Everybody is afraid,” a worker who did not wish to be named told Reuters. Reuters

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