Muscat: The Minister of Labour, Dr. Mahad bin Said bin Ali Ba’owain, said on Tuesday that the Ministry was able to provide almost 10,000 jobs to Omani job seekers during the first quarter of the current year.
In an interview with Oman TV, the minister said, “According to the directives of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik to provide jobs for Omanis, the Ministry of Labour announced in January 2021 that 32,000 jobs would be provided to job seekers as per the implementation of the plan. During the past three months, we were able to provide between 9,800 and 10,000 new jobs to Omanis.”
“About 4,000 job opportunities were given in the government sector and tests were conducted for them, and about 4,000 Omanis job seekers gained employment for the first time, while another 2,000 got other job opportunities coupled with training,” he explained.
“This is how we achieved about 10,000 jobs, whose creation we announced at the start of the year, as part of our efforts that need to be completed by the end of 2021.
“With this number, we have achieved in the first quarter of 2021 almost 30 per cent of the 32,000 job opportunities that were previously announced,” the minister added. “We exceeded the required objective and that is a great success. We thank God that we were able to achieve it.”
The minister has confirmed that the quarterly report of the ministry is ready and will be announced on Sunday, May 2, 2021. He also added that, “When we look at the number of expatriates working in the country: about 1,500,000, we find that only 10 per cent of them are replaceable, while the rest of the jobs are low paying ones where we cannot pressure employers to replace expatriates with Omanis.”
“So with this 10 per cent, we can have 140,000 to 200,000 job opportunities for which we can replace expatriates with Omanis, and the replacement process involves training, qualification and experience for some jobs, so we need time to do that and we will work hard to achieve this,” he went on to add, pointing out that efficiency and sincerity at work are qualities present among Omanis, but some jobs require specific expertise and skills.
The most difficult hurdle, according to the minister, is in the development of Omani human resources to improve work and contribute to production, while employment is easy because there is an economy that grows in the Sultanate, and of course, there are jobs that arise and are soon distributed among job seekers according to qualifications and work experience.
“We also put pressure on the public and private sectors to replace expatriates with Omanis, and we inform them that we are ready to provide for any qualification or training required for this replacement,” he added.
He said, “We are heading in the right direction despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which are now more severe than before, as we have returned to square one of the corona pandemic, unfortunately.”
He has appealed to all workers in the private sector to adhere to health procedures and follow the instructions issued by their employer to protect them and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The Ministry of Labour has an impact on every household in Oman, whether as an employee, a job seeker, an employer, or seeking permits for domestic or private workers, so you find that every person has to deal with the ministry. So you find everyone has issues and a great interest in the ministry and follow up all the developments,” the minister added.
“An expert finds that the Ministry is a regulatory body based on specific data, structures and different systems. We try in the Ministry to reconcile them. There are two major parts in the Ministry, namely the human resource development sector and the labour sector,” he added.
Regarding the labour law, he confirmed that the drafting of its articles and clauses was completed in December 2020, and it is not recent, as it began in 2015-2016, but its provisions and articles have been updated in line with the current phase and new developments that have recently popped up, such as remote work, part-time work and organising an employee’s relationship with the employer.
“When I stated in January 2021, I did not expect that there was a need for review from different sides and it will take a long time, but the fact that the comparison of the new work affects everyone, everyone has made an effort and reviewed it very carefully,” he added.
“A ministerial committee has been formed from the relevant ministries, such as the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs and the Ministry of Labour. This committee will carefully review the law for more than 140 articles.”
“We have also asked the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFOTU), and the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) to review the new labour law and provide their observations and vision,” he added.
“All these steps delayed the issuance of the new labour law, in addition to the developments that took place due to the corona pandemic and the reduction in the number of employees in all government institutions to 50 per cent,” he added.
He said, “All the reviews have been completed and the law has been fully revised and discussed by the Legal Committee of the Council of Ministers. It was discussed as well by the Council of Ministers, and there were some minor amendments. Within a week or two weeks, the new labour law will be transferred to the Oman Council for review and it may take a month or a month-and-a-half until it is completed. So it will take around three months before it is announced.”
“During the past months, I found that a worker’s relationship with his employer is not integrated, and there is a quarrel between them and a lack of trust. This affects the quality of work in the private sector and is against the smooth and confident relationship between the two parties. So we do not want a conflict between the two parties. In the end it is necessary that there be complementarity between the two parties, so we see that there will be an amendment in some aspects of the previous labour law to prevent this in the future,” he confirmed.
“One of the positive aspects of the new law is that it will better regulate the labour law in the private sector and clarify the relationship between a worker and its employer and they will know both rights and duties. This will help in improving the work culture and contribute to real development,” he said.
“We apologise to everyone for this delay in issuing the new labour law, but we are keen to review the law from all authorities and institutions in the Sultanate and contribute to observations, opinions and proposals.”