By Staff writer
Trade Union Confederation Representative Sharan Burrow says Oman needs to work towards protecting workers’ rights
Oman needs to set up labour courts to settle worker-employer disputes, an International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) official told the Times of Oman.
According to Sharan Burrow, secretary general of ITUC, new labour laws in Oman are critical for protecting the rights of workers.
Burrow, who was in Oman last week meeting with government officials, pointed out that the Kafala system is one of the things that needs to change.
“The new [labour] law in Oman needs to be implemented as soon as possible to ensure a commitment to non-discriminatory labour laws and the emerging practice of social dialogue being backed by a rule of law,” she explained, adding that disagreements are normal and that engaging in dialogue is crucial to resolving them.
Despite loopholes in Oman’s laws, Burrow insisted it is much better in comparison with other GCC countries, where a master-servant relationship between employers and workers is prevalent.
Still, discrimination exists in many of the country’s firms.
“There are three differing contracts - for Omani workers, for migrants from the East, and for Western expats,” Burrow said.
Other problems include charging workers with a retainer fee for the privilege of being free to work with other employers, as well as the absence of an exit visa.
Oman’s trade union leaders have recently urged the country to create an independent government body dedicated to protecting domestic workers.
According to data from Oman’s National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), Oman’s population increased by 1.3 per cent from July to August. While the Omani population is approximately 2.35 million, the number of expats surpasses 1.86 million.