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Reports of strike at Oman airport following site death

Thousands of South Asian labourers working on the expansion of Muscat airport downed tools on 12 March in a rare strike to demand better safety conditions after a worker died in an accident, Reuters reported.

They resumed work the next day.

The Omani government awarded the $1.8bn contract to build a new terminal in 2010 to BEB, a joint venture of company Bechtel and Turkey’s Enka.

An Indian worker died late on Monday, 11 March when he was run over by a bus belonging to the contractor, workers and a BEB official told Reuters.

“We will not go to work today unless our company assures us that they will revise safety standards in our workplace,” Mohan Raman, a worker with BEB, told Reuters.

Muscat new terminal (Credit: Bechtel)

“We have 10,000 workers and most of them are on strike,” said the BEB official, who asked not to be named. “We are improving safety standards to make sure such accidents will never happen again.”

A BEB statement sent to Reuters said the company had suspended work out of respect for the deceased employee.

“An investigation is being carried out by the company and the local authorities,” the statement said, adding that work would resume on the Wednesday.

The extension of Muscat airport was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of this year, but officials said last year it was expected to take until the end of 2014 because of soft ground in the middle of the new runway.