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Muscat: A special court dedicated to settling labour disputes in Oman is to be created, with a senior Ministry of Manpower official confirming the process is already underway. 
 
Said Salem Al Saadi, the advisor to the Minister of Manpower, told Times of Oman, “We are working on to set up a special court to deal with labour disputes.” 
 
“We won’t be able to tell when it will be set up. However, the process is underway. The ministry is keen on protecting workers’ rights and it always works for the welfare of workers,” he said. 
At present, Oman doesn’t have a dedicated court to deal with labour disputes, which are currently handled in the general courts. 
 
The figures available from 2014 show that 216 employment disputes were dealt with. There were 172 cases in 2013 and 37 cases in 2012, representing a 483 per cent rise in cases in three years. 
 
“A labour court is an essential step to protect workers. The International Trade Union Centre (ITUC) will support the Omani trade unions in this ambition,” Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the ITUC, said. 
 
An official from the General Federation of Oman Trade Union (GFOTU) confirmed the move to set up a special labour court was included in the draft of new labour law, which is currently under the consideration of ministry of legal affairs. 
 
“It was mentioned in the draft which we have reviewed. But, whether it will be implemented or not, we have to wait and see. A special court is needed for settling labour disputes, when there is rise in cases,” Mohammed Khaldi, one of the directors at GFOTU board, said. 
 
Another trade union official said that the absence of special court and delays in settlements deter workers from fighting for their rights. 
 
“It is the need of the hour, especially when the economy situation is bad due to oil price dip, which eventually leads to increase in number of labour cases,” Saud Salmi, chairman of the Oil and Gas Trade Union in Oman, said. 
 
“Special court judges are aware of the labour laws. Currently, judges are forced to seek experts’ advice in labour disputes,” Saud added. 
 
Deepa Sudhir, the legal advisor in Oman, said, “We welcome this move. It would be helpful for both the parties as cases can be settled without much delay.” 
 
Original Source: Times of Oman 
 
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