Over 200 employees from Larson and Toubro (L&T) Oman staged a demonstration at the Ruwi head office on Monday bringing work to a halt at almost 20 major project sites being handled by L&T across the sultanate.
According to the protestors, more than 1,350 people have not reported for work on Monday at their project sites. “Work has come to a standstill at Muscat International Airport, Salalah Airport, eight power stations at Duqm, Azaiba bridge, GUtech Barka, Al Ameen Mosque in Baushar, Al Misfah power station, Sohar power station and construction of the Ministry of Manpower building by the airport,” said Mubarak Salem al Khusaibi, a safety officer at L&T.
Among those protesting are crane operators, heavy duty truck and other transport drivers, workers and other employees from different departments at various sites. All joined in to demand a increase in their salaries, safety insurance, medical insurance, healthcare services, better staff accommodation at construction site camps, overtime allowance and a five day working week.
“We also demanding the immediate sacking of a few officials based in Muscat and one officer in Ibri,” said Saeed al Balushi, a heavy truck driver at the company. Balushi also said that employees working at different branches, camps and sites have joined in the protests and most labourers and employees did not make it to work as all drivers responsible for transportation have joined the stir.
“The management is exploiting us. We will not start our work until the demands are met,” said the protesters. Mohamed al Sulaimi, a Public Relations Officer at L&T said that work has been disturbed at all L&T sites and the employees started their demonstrations from 6.30am on Monday. They demanded that the Ministry of Manpower take immediate action to address their concerns.
Workers from campsites at Rusayl, Naseem Park and Wadi Kabir complained of camps being overcrowded with people for both expatriate and Omani workers.
Seven representatives arrived from the Ministry of Manpower, following which a nine-hour meeting between the representatives of the protesters and the management took place.
Although the L&T management agreed to sack the officials as per the protesters’ demands, it did not pacify them. “No agreement was reached and the protesters have vowed to continue as long as it takes,” said Qais al Jahwari a draughtsman with L&T. The two-weeks time asked for by the management, said protesters, to implement the negotiated agreement, was rejected by them.