880 illegal workers arrested in one week

Muscat: 880 illegal workers were arrested in a period of less than seven days. According to data released by the ministry, the Governorate of Muscat registered a record number of 626 arrests followed by North Al Batinah with 78 during the period from March 10 to 16.

Of the total number of arrests, 410 were for ‘freelance work’, 303 for leaving the sponsors and the remaining 166 for staying in the country without proper documents.

“The raids conducted in cooperation with Royal Oman Police and other authorities, are part of the efforts by the authorities to cleanse the labour market”, said an official at the ministry. According to the weekly data, a total of 410 workers were deported last week.

“Most of the arrests and deportations were for violating different provisions in the labour law including residency permits. The raids will be intensified in the coming weeks”, the official said.

Commenting on the rising number of arrests, the official said that despite warnings, a large number of workers are still found to be doing jobs without proper work permits.

“Hundreds of the workers, who were caught during the raids, were not working under the sponsor whom they were supposed to. This is against the law”, he said. Quoting the labour law, the official said, “a non-Omani employee who works in Oman without a licence from the directorate concerned or works with any employer other than the employer who obtained a licence to bring him to the Sultanate, shall be punished”.

Similarly, he said, an employer who allows any of his workers to work with another employer shall be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month and a fine not exceeding RO 1,000 for each worker.

Referring to the so-called ‘freelance’ workers, the official said that there is nothing called ‘free visa’ issued by the government. “Employees are not allowed to work under an employer other than the one who is permitted to bring them into the country. Until 2009, they were free to work anywhere after paying a fee to their sponsors. But now the law bans such free movement of workers”, he said.

Companies or individuals who are illegally bringing workers to Oman or providing them with jobs must be prepared to face strict action under the prevailing laws, he said. “It is illegal to hire a worker without proper documents from the authorities concerned,” said an official at the ministry.