Muscat: Work ground to a complete halt at Oman's oldest industrial estate on Thursday as workers continued their protests after the efforts of the country's manpower minister to pacify the agitators failed.
The strikers went from unit to unit in the 28-year-old Rusayl Industrial Estate 45km north of the capital Muscat, and forced all of its 150 units to stop their activities. They also blocked road access to the industrial estate using objects they had brought with them.
"No manufacturing unit is working today in the Rusayl Industrial Estate," a proprietor of a medium-scale factory told Gulf News on condition of anonymity. He added that the striking Omani workers had come well-prepared to block the entrance to the estate.
An owner of a tin container manufacturing unit wondered when the striking workers would resume work, or at least allow those that wanted to do so.
Most factory owners were curious to know if the authorities would intervene and clear the protesters so that production, as well as transport of goods in and out of the estate, could resume.
Earlier on Wednesday, Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Abdullah Al Bakri, the Minister of Manpower, met with the striking workers but the talks failed to break the deadlock.
According to a senior executive at a furniture manufacturing factory, exports have been hit badly, too.
"We have a consignment ready to be taken to the port for loading onto ships but we have already missed one ship and now we must wait for our turn again," he said.
While small to medium units and a handful of large manufacturers are waiting anxiously, the workers indicated they were in no mood to relent unless all their demands, which include pay rises, are met.
Meanwhile, Dr Ahmad Bin Mohammad Bin Salem Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, negotiated with striking workers at the Port Mina in Muscat who later resumed their duties and cleared the entry and exit points to the port.
The situation in Sohar remained the same, as the Globe Roundabout continued to be closed to traffic, with protesters blocking every access to the main junction in the industrial port city. Sohar saw demonstrations turning ugly last month, with two people killed in police action against a violent crowd.