Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52cad228.html [accessed 19 December 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: 2,600,000
Capital: Muscat
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 105 – 138 – 182

The government allows trade unions, but only for certain categories of workers. Only one trade union federation is authorised. Collective bargaining and strikes are recognised, though with restrictions. Some migrant workers reportedly work in conditions similar to forced labour.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: Two decrees adopted in 2006 and 2007 grant workers the right to form trade unions, when previously only "representation committees" were allowed. More than one union can now operate per company, and employers are banned from punishing or dismissing workers for union activities. The armed forces, security and government personnel, and domestic workers are not allowed to form unions.

There must be at least 25 employees for a union to be formed, regardless of the size of the company. The Decree's 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. Unions must notify the government at least one month in advance of union meetings.

Collective bargaining: Workers are allowed to carry out collective bargaining, replacing the formal requirement that wages and working conditions had to be set by law or individual contracts. When there is no trade union, collective bargaining will take place between the employer and five representatives selected by the workers of the enterprise. The employer is not allowed to object to any of the representatives selected. While negotiation is ongoing, the employer is prohibited to take any decision on issues that are on the bargaining table.

Right to strike: Peaceful strike action is allowed. Strikes must be supported by an absolute majority of the workforce. Notice of the strike must be received by the employer in writing at least three weeks beforehand. The strike should come to an end if the parties agree to commence the procedures for settling the dispute. To this end, the Ministry will form a committee in consultation with workers and the employer. If such committee fails to solve the dispute within four weeks, the dispute will be referred to the courts.

One export processing zone (EPZ): There is one export processing zone: the Salalah EPZ, but the precise arrangements (incentives, taxes, etc.) are not yet known.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: Half of the workforce is made up of migrants, so the government is actively taking measures to replace foreign expatriates with local workers.

Freedom of association: The Constitutive Congress of the General Federation of the Sultanate of Oman, the country's only trade union centre, which was scheduled to take place in September or October after being delayed on several occasions, failed to take place.

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 have a particularly strong presence in the construction industry. They work in situations amounting to forced labour. Migrant labourers in some companies and households work more than 12-hour days for US$78 per month.

In June, in order to protect its nationals (around 500,000 Indians live in Oman) who are employed as domestic workers in Oman from abuse, India fixed a minimum wage for domestic workers at US$195 a month.

The Sultanate of Oman wants to create more jobs for its own nationals, particularly in the private sector, and in July the government placed a ban on foreign workers in the private sectors covering imports, exports and clothing businesses.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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