MUSCAT (Reuters) - Around 200 staff of Oman Air, the flag carrier of the Gulf Arab state, went on strike on Sunday demanding higher salaries, employees and company officials said.
A wave of revolts against oppressive leaders and economic hardships have been sweeping the Arab world over the past two months, ousting the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia. They now challenge regimes in Libya as well as nearby Bahrain and Oman.
The sultanate, a small non-OPEC oil producer, has seen some of the largest protests in the Gulf Arab region demanding political reforms, jobs, and improvement of salaries.
“About 200 ground staff are on strike today from different departments, demanding higher pay,” a striking employee said.
Strikers gathered at the airline’s headquarters for around two hours, and threatened to continue their action on Monday.
“The CEO wanted 48 hours to think about it but the staff said there will be a total strike tomorrow if they don’t get a clear answer by then,” a company’s human resources official, who had negotiated with protesters, told Reuters, without giving details of the pay demands.
The website of Dubai’s International Airport showed Oman Air flights from Muscat were largely unaffected on Sunday.
“Flights are operating as usual today but the strike may extend to flying passengers if we don’t see any positive steps from the CEO tomorrow,” said a protesting employee of the airline’s flight services operations.
Oman Air, fully owned by the government, offers flights to Asian destinations such as Bangkok and Bangladesh’s Chittagong, as well as European cities including Frankfurt and Paris.
Unrest in the normally tranquil oil-producing state, ruled by Sultan Qaboos for four decades, included protests in the capital Muscat and in the port of Sohar, which is an industrial hub.
Sultan Qaboos replaced two ministers on Saturday after promising earlier to create 50,000 jobs, in response to the protests. (Reporting by Saleh al-Shaibany; Writing by Martina Fuchs; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)