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Oman and Labor Rights

The Oman Free Trade Agreement (OFTA) will result in serious human rights abuses in Oman, as well as a continued deterioration of working conditions and wages in the United States.

Oman literally does not allow independent labor unions. The Sultan of Oman only permits workers' committees in which the government and management also participate. The U.S. State Department reports have noted that Oman "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking." In Oman, 80 percent of the private sector workforce is foreign-born "guest-workers" from China, Bangladesh, and other poor countries. Yet, the Sultanic decrees on labor require written Arabic fluency for a worker to participate in the workers' committees. Despite all of this, OFTA contains virtually the same pathetic labor standards as the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The country's only obligation is to enforce its own, if any, labor laws that it has on the books.

In nearby Jordan, a country with a stronger labor rights record, recent reports show that the 2001 U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement led to unspeakable labor rights abuses and human trafficking as the FTA created a flood of Chinese and other foreign owned firms importing workers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to toil in Jordan so as to obtain duty free export status into the United States.

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