Last Updated: Monday, 22 September 2014, 14:17 GMT

2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2007
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca162d.html [accessed 22 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 3,000,000
Capital: Muscat
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 105 – 138 – 182

In less than four months, the government of the Sultanate of Oman issued a decree permitting the establishment of trade unions and a second one recognising collective bargaining and guaranteeing the right to strike. Major restrictions remain, however, and migrant workers are still very vulnerable.

Trade union rights in law

Trade unions authorised: A decree promulgated on 8 July 2006 grants workers the right to form trade unions. Previously only "representation committees" had been allowed. The decree authorises the creation of more than one union per company. It also bans employers from punishing or dismissing workers on account of their union activities.

Restrictions remain: Based on the amendments to the law, there must be at least 25 employees for a union to be formed, regardless of the size of the company. The reference to the "General Federation of the Sultanate of Oman" implies a monopoly with a single trade union federation. The Ministry of Employment may refuse to register a trade union "if it is not convinced" that all the requirements have been met.

In addition, the armed forces, security and government personnel, and domestic workers are not covered by this law.

Collective bargaining and right to strike recognised: The decree of 31 October 2006 authorises collective bargaining and peaceful strike action by workers. Formerly, wages and working conditions could only be set by law or in individual contracts.

Limitations on the right to strike: Strikes must be supported by an absolute majority of the workforce. Notice of the strike must be received by the employer at least three weeks before it takes place. Strike days must be regarded as working days that have not been worked and are therefore unpaid.

Trade union rights in practice

Migrant workers: Half of Oman's workers are foreigners and they represent a cheap and vulnerable source of labour. Most are from southern Asia and they have a particularly strong presence in the construction industry. Like most of the Gulf countries, the Sultanate of Oman wishes to create more jobs for its own nationals, particularly in the private sector. As a result of that policy many sectors are not open to expatriates and the number of employed foreign workers has dropped.

A first export processing zone (EPZ): A decree issued in 2006 provided for the creation of the Salalah export processing zone, which is the first EPZ in the country: the precise arrangements (incentives, taxes, etc.) are not yet known.

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