India, Oman likely to sign labour welfare agreement

May 13th, 2008 - 12:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Aroonim Bhuyan
Muscat, May 13 (IANS) India and Oman are finalising an agreement on labour welfare that is likely to be signed later this year. “A working level delegation is going to come from India in June to finetune the clauses of the labour welfare agreement,” said India’s Ambassador to Oman Anil Wadhwa.

“Following the working level delegation’s visit here, we expect the agreement to be signed when Oman’s Minister for Manpower Juma Bin Ali Al Juma visits India later this year,” Wadhwa told IANS.

The agreement had come up for discussion during the visit of India’s Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed to Oman in October last year.

India already has labour welfare agreements with three other Gulf nations, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Qatar.

There are around 500,000 expatriate Indians in Oman; a large number of them are engaged as domestic help and contract labour in the country’s booming construction sector.

But, unlike other Gulf nations, the construction industry in Oman is mainly confined to infrastructure like roads and ports.

The ambassador said the agreement would be a totally updated one and would cover domestic workers as well.

Asked if the agreement would specify any minimum wage limit, Wadhwa said the issue was not being taken up as of now.

“Salaries are not much of an issue here. That is because inflation has not been high here unlike in other Gulf nations,” he said.

With the currencies of five of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries linked to the plunging US dollar, inflation has been a major issue in the region and there have been reports of expatriate workers resorting to strikes demanding higher salaries in several GCC countries.

According to the ambassador, Indians have a good reputation in Oman as productive workers.

“Indians anyway are considered to be the most productive workers here and are much in demand,” he said, adding that labour regulatory authorities in this Gulf nation were very considerate of workers’ interests.

“The labour regulatory authorities here promptly take up workers’ complaints with the employers involved. Issues like living and working conditions of workers are strictly monitored here.”

As for competition with other labour exporting countries, Wadhwa said that in the domestic help sector the competition was mainly from countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. In the construction sector, workers from other South Asian nations like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka compete with Indians.

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