MUSCAT: More than 400 expatriate workers were caught every week in 2016 for violating labour laws, the statistics of the Ministry of Manpower reveal.
The statistics, uploaded by the ministry from time to time in 2016, with the exception of only a few weeks, on its official twitter account, showed that 18,854 expatriate workers were caught during raids in 2016.
“Lack of respect for labour laws on the part of the employers, coupled with the workers’ poor understanding of these laws, has been leading to such a situation. If an employer follows and grants all the rights to a labourer, as laid out in the labour law, then such workers would not run away and become undocumented,” Mohammed Faraji, a trade unionist, told the Times of Oman.
“Similarly, if these workers were to properly understand the labour law and follow it, then they would not land in such a situation where they are caught as violators and deported,” the trade unionist added.
Last year in May, a senior official in the Ministry of Manpower had told the Times of Oman about raids being intensified in Oman.
In 2015, around 19,000 expatriate workers were caught in raids meant to nab labour law violators. This year, once the data for the missing weeks is added, the number is expected to be the same, or even more.
“We advise workers not to run away and become undocumented, only to be caught as violators. Our advice is that if a violation has happened, please approach the ministry or us,” the trade unionist added.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that some undocumented workers have chosen to stay back in different parts of Oman.
“We agree that we are undocumented and have been overstaying in the country. Even though we want to go back, we are stuck here because we do not have enough money to pay up the huge fines we have accrued for having overstayed,” a worker said on condition of anonymity.
“Currently, there are no jobs here, so life has become horrible,” the worker lamented.
Hundreds of such overstaying workers can be seen looking out for agents who can offer work in Hamriya and other areas in Ruwi.
According to the Article 114 of the Oman Labour Law, a non-Omani employee who works in the country without a licence issued by the concerned directorate, or works for any employer other than the one who obtained a licence to bring him to the Sultanate, shall be punished.