Muscat: Employees of at least three big companies staged demonstrations in Muscat on Wednesday. The government has major stakes in two out of the three companies.
In the morning, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) employees staged demonstrations outside the Mina Al Fahal in Qurum area of Muscat.
According to reliable sources, the company's new Managing Director, Raoul Restucci, met the about 200 striking employees, who agreed to nominate a representative delegation to hold meeting with him to put forward their own demands. The demonstration ended after two hours and staff got back to work.
A large number of Omantel workers also went on a strike outside their new headquarters in Al Mawaleh, a new suburb situated 55-km north-west of Muscat.
The newly appointed Minister of Transport & Communications, Dr Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, along with Moahmmed Ali Al Wohaibi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport & Communications for Communication, rushed to the Omantel headquarters.
Dr Shaikh Ayman Bin Ahmad Al Hosni, Chairman of HR Committee, Omantel Board of Directors, Dr Amer Bin Awadh Al Rawas, Omantel Chief Executive Officer, and representatives of the Ministry of Manpower held talks with a group nominated by the protesting workers.
"The staff has demanded some privileges and improvement of their employment conditions," according to a statement issued by the company when Gulf News contacted them for their reaction.
"Omantel Management has promised the staff they would respond to the employees' demands shortly," the statement said.
Mohammad Al Saalmi, spokesperson for the company, said the demonstrations outside the headquarters had not affected work.
The Omantel Trade Union had held talks with the employees on February 27, to discuss their demands.
At that meeting between the staff and the union, which is a registered body, it was agreed to raise these demands to the executive management of the company and grant them 45 days to formally respond to it.
The Omantel staff demands include: salary increase, improvement of privileges granted to Omani staff such as fairness in health insurance as well as facilitation of housing loans similar to other organisations in the country.
The protesters have also demanded technical and risk allowances for eligible employees, enhanced annual bonus and the granting of end of service benefits to those wishing to retire.
In Azaiba district of Muscat, the Omani employees of W.J. Towell Group went on a strike, demanding better wages and working conditions.
Elsewhere, in Sohar the situation was the same with protesters continuing to block the Globe Roundabout, stopping traffic from all sides.
The protests in Salalah also continued with students from Dhofar University demonstrating.