Sri Lankan workers flee Oman heat

Sri Lankan embassy in Oman reports that at least 10 construction workers per day request to go home

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By  Tim.Wood Published  July 15, 2006

The Sri Lankan embassy in Oman is being inundated with calls from Sri Lankan workers who want to go back home because they can’t cope with the high summer temperatures. “At least 10 construction workers are approaching us every day with requests to be sent back. They are finding it hard to work on open sites in the sizzling heat,” said an embassy official. “They are finding the heat unbearable, especially as they have to work on open sites exposed to the scorching sun.” The embassy said that although such complaints from construction workers during the summer months are normal, the number contacting it seems to have increased this year because so many more workers are travelling to the Middle East from Sri Lanka. There was an unofficial ban on construction firms hiring Sri Lankans labourers to work in Oman, but those restrictions have now been lifted. There are no official figures as to the number of Sri Lankan workers in Muscat although the embassy estimates the numbers to be about 55,000, the majority of which are low-paid construction workers. The embassy is helping the complainants by speaking to the construction company concerned and if the unhappy workers aren’t allowed home, the case is referred to the Department of Labour. The number of workers who have been in touch with the embassy over the non-payment of wages has also increased. Oman is currently experiencing a construction boom with mega projects including Blue City, The Wave, Sohar Port, and two new airports including the construction of runways, terminals, control towers and other facilities, scheduled for completion by the end of 2008.

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