Why do we shelter runaway workers?

Ali Al Matani –
Ali.matani2@gmail.com –

While specialised teams in the government are exerting tremendous efforts in organising the labour market and terminating runaway workers across nationalities, unfortunately, we find that citizens and corporations are sheltering these workers.
Resorting to such practices disrupts the government efforts that aim at organising the labour market. Whatever the abilities of the specialised parties and however big their roles and efforts, these will remain useless if citizens and corporations continue with such practices.
There is no doubt the efforts of the Ministry of Manpower in organising the labour market, which brings multiple benefits to parties concerned, cannot simply reach the promising level that everyone is looking forward to, as long as there is no active cooperation from citizens.
By giving the runaway workers a chance to work illegally, they excuse themselves from legal accountability. Also they act against the noble principles and regulations that aim at developing a perfect market for people to work, which will benefit the nation and citizens.
There are indeed many risks posed by runaway workers across social, economic, cultural and security levels.
In order to prevent this phenomenon, a joint work inspection team was created under the ministerial decision No. 102 / 95, which assigned teams to track and catch runaway workers across the Sultanate.
Inspection teams exert their authority to make sure workers are doing the permitted job under their sponsors.
However, these teams face many challenges in their mission that don’t allow them to do their job properly, like obstruction to inspections and cheating. Though they highly contribute to checking illegal work, they could not completely end the practice due to the aforementioned reasons.
As for the legislations and legal frameworks that deal with the issue, Oman Labour law (Article No. 114) imposes a penalty of no less than RO 1,000 (no more than RO 2,000) per worker, on anyone hiring non-Omani citizens without licence. Also, they are required to bear the expenses of sending the workers back home. They are also prohibited from hiring non-Omani workers for a period no more than two years.
The penalty is double for hiring workers who enter the country illegally. Moreover, any employer who allows a non-Omani worker to be hired can be imprisoned for no more than a month with a penalty of no less than RO 1,000 per worker, or one of these sanctions. The last article includes strong sanctions against violators, in addition to other legislations that criminalise runaway workers and also those who illegally shelter and hire them.
The penalty falls on the employer and the employee, according to the ministerial decision No 95 / 2011, which is concerned with reporting expatriates. Inspection visits to fight the phenomenon of runaway workers caught nearly 20,000 workers in 2016. Hence we must support the agencies concerned in this matter to achieve our common interest.
Organising the labour market in a way that brings benefits to the country is not as simple as some people think. It is a matter that requires cooperation and a lot of effort from all parties so that massive financial losses and consequences across the cultural and social levels can be checked.
Of course, we don’t deny that there are those who cooperate with the parties concerned and report the runaway labourers, and those who don’t employ them in their corporations, as they believe in the importance of fixing the labour market and appreciate the official efforts. However, most people secretly shelter and employ expatriates, ignorant of the consequences of such practices.
We hope that we all work on terminating this dangerous phenomenon, knowing its impact on individuals, society, and national economy.