Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2018, 16:20 GMT

2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 20 November 2008
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman, 20 November 2008, available at: [accessed 21 February 2018]
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

While the government allows trade unions and recognises the right to collective bargaining and to strike, restrictions remain. Some migrant workers reportedly work in conditions similar to forced labour. Police violently broke up a strike by migrant workers and held 12 strikers before deporting them.

Trade union rights in law

Trade unions authorised: A 2006 decree grants 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.

Restrictions remain: 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. Unions must notify the government at least one month in advance of union meetings.

The armed forces, security and government personnel, and domestic workers are not allowed to form unions.

Collective bargaining and right to strike recognised: Workers are allowed to carry out collective bargaining and peaceful strike action, replacing the formal requirement that wages and working conditions had to be set by law or 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 beforehand.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

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. It is reported that at times they work in situations amounting to forced labour, and that migrant labourers in some companies and households work more than 12-hour days for $78 per month.

The Sultanate of Oman wants to create more jobs for its own nationals, particularly in the private sector, so many sectors are closed to expatriates and the number of foreign workers has dropped.

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.

Police violently break up strike and detain strikers: On 1 October police reportedly aggressively broke up a strike by approximately 600 Indian and Nepali workers in a Muscat-area cleaning company. The workers were protesting poor living conditions, non-payment of wages and unexplained deductions from salaries.

Twelve of the workers were subsequently detained without charge for three weeks prior to being deported.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

Search Refworld