Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2014, 20:05 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman, 9 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c4fec612d.html [accessed 18 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: 2,800,000
Capital: Muscat
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 105 – 138 – 182

Trade unions are still rare. Migrants' working conditions remain a cause for concern. Only one trade union federation is allowed, and the right to strike is recognised, though with restrictions.

Trade union rights in law

Despite recent improvements to trade union rights, problematic areas remain in the law. 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 prohibited from punishing or dismissing workers for union activities. However, 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 also refuse to register a union "if it is not convinced" that all the requirements have been met. Furthermore, there must be at least 25 employees for a union to be formed, regardless of the size of the company, and security and government personnel are not allowed to organise. Trade union activities are restricted by the requirement that unions notify the government at least one month in advance of union meetings.

While wages and working conditions were previously set by law or individual contracts, workers are now allowed to carry out collective bargaining. Still, the procedures for calling a lawful strike are cumbersome, as a strike must be supported by an absolute majority of the workforce, and notice of the strike must be given to the employer at least three weeks in advance.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said has ruled the hereditary monarchy since 1970. All important decisions are made by him. Oman has only ratified four ILO conventions.

The country's economy depends heavily on the contribution of migrant workers, particularly in the construction industry. About 852,000 migrants are employed in the private sector, compared to about 305,000 Omanis. In August the government released its target figures for the percentage of Omani nationals to be employed in each private enterprise.

Still no national trade union centre: The founding congress of the General Federation of the Sultanate of Oman, the country's only national trade union centre, has been postponed several times. It is due to be held, finally, in February 2010. At the end of 2008, the Ministry of Manpower had recorded 58 unions at the enterprise level.

Suicides among migrant workers on the increase: A United Arab Emirates newspaper, The National Newspaper, reported an increase in suicides among migrant workers in Oman. Part of the reason for this is the very difficult living and working conditions they face.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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