On 5 March 2016, the GFBTU held its 3rd Congress. The event was attended by 135 delegates from Arab Trade unions and the unions affiliated to the GFBTU as well as ILO ACTRAV Geneva, LO Norway, ITUC Brussels, AFL-CIO USA, and the BWI. The GFBTU recently elected a new executive committee - 30% are youth, 4 women were elected out of the 17 seats.
In his opening speech, Sayed Salman Al-Mahfood, General Secretary of the GFBTU, announced that democracy will be achieved and that he will not run for presidency again. The Government continues to put pressure on the GFBTU. Representatives from UGTT and other guests were not issued entry visas, thus prohibiting the participation in the conference of ITF, ATUC, and ILO.
Wassim Rifi, BWI MENA Coordinator, presented BWI’s continued and strong support to the GFBTU: “You have always called on all Bahraini workers to be united and strongly believed in democracy and that workers’ rights are human rights… You have also demonstrated firm belief and persistently supported the role of youth and women in taking leadership and in building the future of trade unions”.
The BWI has been working with the GFBTU since 2004. A lot of activities and progress has been made like capacity building of Bahraini workers, organising migrant workers, encouraging and sponsoring bilateral cooperation with unions from other countries. In 2011 and with the beginning of challenges related to Bahraini politics which included attacks on the GFBTU, the BWI has continuously supported the GFBTU through statements and letters calling for the reinstatement of the inappropriately dismissed workers. Already in the previous congress, the BWI stressed its support towards the GFBTU and Bahrain workers is continuous and unlimited.