MUSCAT — Oman’s consultative Shoura Council has launched a drive to speed up reforms of labor laws after strikes by oil workers in the country in the past two months demanding higher pay and better working conditions.
Oman, which gets 70 percent of its revenue from the oil sector, has detained more than 30 people in recent weeks following protests that some blame on the government’s failure to deliver jobs promised after massive protests last year.
Up to 400 oil workers downed tools at state oil fields in May to push for better pay and pensions. More strikes broke out in June, mainly among employees of private contractors working in the oil sector, labor union officials said.
The 84-member Shoura Council, an elected body that advises the government on key legislation, this week discussed proposals to reform labor laws, including provisions aimed at bolstering private sector oil workers’ rights.
“We are trying to change the laws for oil workers to improve their working conditions. After all, the oil industry is contributing to our economy,” said a Shoura Council member, who asked not to be named.
The council’s recommendations include extending regulations barring employees from working outside in the summer when the temperature tops 50 degrees Celsius (122 F).
The council is also pushing to ensure that labor courts speed up rulings on disputes between workers and employers.
Council members are also meeting with private oil companies trying to defuse future strikes and urge firms to improve their working conditions in Oman.
“The Shoura Council is acting as a mediator between oil workers and their employers,” Salim Ali Al-Kaabi, the council’s deputy chairman, said in a statement. — Reuters