10 July 2006
Oman decree on workers unions strengthens FTA
By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
Muscat: A royal decree granting workers in Oman rights to form unions and barring coercive practices by employers will strengthen Oman’s free trade agreement (FTA) with the US, a top official said.
"This was one of the issues during the FTA talks and now with Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed ordering a new labour law, this will supplement the FTA," Abdullah Bin Ali Bin Zhaer Al Hinai, director-general of Organisation and Commercial Relations at the Commerce Ministry, told Gulf News.
Oman’s labour law became a thorny issue when Democrats in Congress tried to block the FTA, citing poor workers’ rights legislation.
Now, a new law has been promulgated under which workers have been given the right to form labour unions, allowed to collectively bargain to settle disputes and improve working conditions, as well as peaceful strikes and shutdowns.
The US expressed pleasure at the amendments. "We are pleased that they [Omani government] have followed their commitment on the issue," said Neena Moorjani, Press Secretary of the US Trade Representative.