Worker protests, blockades spread in Oman

March 14, 2011 at 2:03 PM

MUSCAT, Oman, March 14 (UPI) -- Labor unrest spread across Oman Monday, a day after violent demonstrations, authorities said.

Protesters, including striking hotel workers, blocked roads in the capital, Muscat, as well as Sohar and Dhank, Gulf News reported.

The demonstrations in the northwestern town of Ibri turned violent Saturday when protesters took Manpower Ministry staff hostage. On Sunday, "vandals" set a Housing Ministry building, a house and cars on fire, police said.

A witness told Gulf News the arsonists were arrested as they approached a hospital.

In Muscat, hotel workers marched to the Manpower Ministry Monday, demanding better pay and treatment for the Omani staff while Oil Minister Mohammed Hamed bin Saif al-Rumhi met with oil workers staging a sit-in.

Nursing staff picketed the Health Ministry to call for raises and better conditions.

The Oman International Bank was shut down by a second day of worker agitation, and protests were reported in private and state enterprises alike in Muscat.

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