Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2018, 13:39 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Oman, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 18 January 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: 2,800,000
Capital: Muscat
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 105 – 138 – 182

Migrant workers must contend with difficult working and living conditions. The right to strike is recognised but with restrictions.


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.


Background: Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said celebrated his fortieth year as leader of this monarchy. All important decisions are made by him. He is Prime Minister and also holds the defence, economic and foreign affairs portfolios.

Setting up of a trade union centre: Since the decree enacted in 2006 by the Sultan of Oman granting the right to set up trade unions, approximately 70 trade unions have been set up in the country. The General Federation of Oman Trade Unions (GFOTU) was set up on 15 February. The Executive Bureau is composed of 11 members, 2 of which are women.

Difficult working and living conditions for migrants: They are approximately 826,000 migrant workers in Oman, a third of which work in the construction sector. They generally work and live in appalling conditions as their fundamental rights are ignored by employers and the government's inspection services do not intervene. The majority of construction workers have to live in wooden huts with deplorable sanitary conditions which provide no shelter from the extreme temperatures. Many suffer from food poisoning, heat-stroke and injuries caused by falls from scaffolding in particular.

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