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Protests continue amid sweeping changes

Many private sector employees take to the streets bringing traffic to a standstill as they demand higher wages

Desperate for work
Image Credit: AFP
Thousands of unemployed Omanis gather at the national football stadium in Oman’scapital Muscat on Monday for one of the 10,000 vacancies for new policemen.
Gulf News

Muscat: Even as most Omanis welcomed the sweeping ministerial changes announced by Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed last Monday, demonstrations continued with more people joining the protests yesterday in different parts of the country.

The traffic in Wattayeh and Qurum areas of Muscat came to near standstill in the morning when students of Institute of Health Sciences and Nursing Institute rallied for the second successive day to press for demands of higher allowances.

Also joining in morning protests were some private sector employees in Wattayeh. Over 100 Omani employees of Saud Bahwan Group — an automotive giant in the country — picketed in front of their head offices, demanding higher salaries.

They were met by the company chairman and assured that the management would look into their demands.

According to sources, the old employees want their wages raised before the new recruits are hired at 200 Omani riyals (Dh734.48) so that they could have some seniority after having served the company for three or more years.

Job creation

Ironically, the employees staged demonstrations when the company was interviewing some of the 1,000 candidates. The company is hiring new workers in response to the Sultan's call to create 50,000 jobs in the country.

The Oman Air employees took turns protesting outside the national airline's head office so as not to disrupt the work flow. They are demanding better working conditions and change in top management. Journalists also staged demonstration outside the Ministry of Information (MoI) in Qurum area.

Saeed Al Hashmi, a leading activist behind the sit-in outside the Shura office for the last ten days, also addressed the journalists and declared solidarity with them as scribes asked for reforms at the ministry.

They accused officials of corrupt practices at the ministry and demanded removal of the minister and the undersecretary.