Trade unions

Prior to the 2011 uprising, freedom of assembly was restricted, including demonstrations and formation of independent trade unions. The only exception was the possibility to join one of the quasi-governmental national trade unions. After the uprising a constitutional declaration stated in Article 15: "The state shall ensure freedom of establishing political parties, associations and other civil society organisations, and shall adopt a statute for their regulation. Secret or armed associations or societies in conflict with public order or public morals or threatening in other ways the State or the integrity of the national territory shall be prohibited."

But that is all that can be said about it, and as of today, due to the legal gaps left behind after the collapse of the regime, there are still no laws to govern or regulate the formation of trade unions or even political parties. The legality of any independent union or party is questioned when they attempt to push for change or demand reforms from the government. There are dozens of political parties which have formed after the uprising, but they are struggling to be viewed as legitimate political parties because it is so new to the Libyan public. The general public is not accustomed to these political groups, making it easy to slander and libel them in media. This is actually what took place and it led these political parties and unions to seize their operations out of fear of defamation and public antagonism.

A similar pattern is seen in civil society and trade unions. The people view them with scrutiny as many of them were funded by foreign governments and were introduced in a very sudden way: Over 1,400 organisation were formed in Benghazi alone in just three years, which led to a chaotic scene. Many of these groups had political agendas, others were viewed as tools for businessmen to gain public recognition, as political campaigns were dominated by these civil society and trade union personalities who rallied support from their community. The main reason to question the purpose of these unions or non-government organisations was that politicians who were supported by the local communities neglected their role and their responsibilities towards their communities, who felt cheated by representatives who have turned their backs on them and disengaged after winning a seat in the parliament. This caused less participation in the next elections and a lower numbers of voters. Many of the parliament members have campaigned under certain banners but after winning they neglected their campaign promises and this caused the parliament to weaken and be discredited. Members who vowed to support their communities such as members from the South and East and who promised better public services and much more, never followed through. One parliamentarian promised that every Libyan will earn at least US$4000 a month and others made even bigger claims.