BAHRAIN's existing national trade union was described as a "political platform" for opposition groups who rigged its elections by a US Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.
A 2004 memo classified as "confidential" by embassy charge d'affaires Robert Ford in February, 2004, said Al Wefaq National Islamic Society and National Democratic Action Society (Wa'ad) "colluded to fix the labour union federation board elections".
It added the opposition groups' actions raised "serious questions about the societies' long-term commitment to democracy".
"By ignoring standard democratic election and bylaw procedures, opposition parties realised their plans but also thwarted the board's ability to legislate, make decisions and set a labour agenda," said the cable.
"Disillusioned by the opposition parties' machinations, several large unions are attempting to extricate themselves from this quagmire and discussing the establishment of a second, non-politicised federation.
"National Democratic Action Society and Al Wefaq's resorting to non-democratic methods to gain control of Bahrain's union federation board raises serious questions about the societies' long-term commitment to democracy."
Under a section titled 'Cooking The Elections', the cable says the majority of delegates invited to the GFBTU's first conference were affiliated with Al Wefaq and Wa'ad.
"To ensure a predominance of opposition party delegates, Al Wefaq and (the) National Democratic Action Society requested that the Arab Workers Union forego the selection process of voting for conference delegates," it said. "The union complied and invited delegates directly from union boards, the majority of whom has affiliation with the two opposition societies."
It suggests the appointment of Abdulghaffar Abdulhussain as general secretary at the time was designed to reduce anger at the election process, which resulted in Wa'ad getting five seats on the union's central council and Al Wefaq getting six, while the remaining two went to an independent candidate and another from the National Democratic Congregation.
However, it says the latter later resigned "because of the NDAS and Al Wefaq collusion", as did his replacement from the Al Menbar Islamic Society.
"Opposition societies went to great lengths to rig the GFBW (GFBTU) board elections, ensuring they were neither free nor fair," it said and cited friction between Al Wefaq and Wa'ad (also referred to as the NDAS).