Al Jazeera also reports that more than 2,000 private sector employees, most of them Shia, have either been sacked or suspended in an expanding Bahraini crackdown on anti-government protests. The General Federation of Bahrain's Trade Unions puts the figure at 1,300, but Bahraini rights groups report that hundreds more have been suspended from their government jobs.
The International Labour Organisation says that the number of people dismissed or suspended currently stands at over 2,000.
The turning point for this side of the crackdown came when labour unions called a general strike on March 13. Under Bahraini law, companies are within their rights to terminate the employment of staff members who miss days of work above and beyond a specified period of unexcused leave.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Guy Ryder, the deputy director-general of the ILO, said that there were two contradictory discourses at play. "The discourse of the government is that it has had, in fact, no role whatsoever in the dismissal of workers. That dismissals have taken place by decision of companies and in accordance with labour legislation prevailing in Bahrain. So the government has very much a hands-off discourse on this matter. That version is contradicted by the trade unions in Bahrain, who say that employers, in fact, have been subjected to political pressure to dismiss people who the government perceives as having been active in the ... protest movement," he said.
The Bahraini economy, meanwhile, continues to reel from both the earlier mass protests, and now mass dismissals of employees. Analysts say the sackings do not inspire confidence in the business community.
In March, foreign assets in the country's offshore banking sector fell 10 per cent, hitting their lowest levels since 2005.
Update Monday 16/5
The Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights released a statement Sunday saying it was “deeply concerned” the country’s leading university had started requiring students to sign a pledge to support the embattled government of King Hamed ibn Isa Khalifa. The state-run University of Bahrain in Sakhir distributed the pledges when students returned to class Sunday. Students who refuse to sign the pledge might have to withdraw, the group says.
University officials added metal detectors, surveillance cameras and stationed security guards at each of the school’s colleges this week, according to the leading opposition newspaper, Al-Wasat. They also have suspended many students who joined anti-government demonstrations or posted anti-government views on Facebook.