Teachers in the small middle eastern sultanate of Oman have been striking for several days in pursuit of demands, including imrpoved condtions for children, especially on school buses, better facilities in schools, improvements to the curriculum, smaller class sizes and increased salaries and promotion prospects.

Oman is an absolute monarchy with many restrictions on people's rights to protest and assemble. One of the teachers' key demands is the right to form a union. The strike is extraordinary in so far as it is being organised without the benefit of union organisation, which is illegal for public employees in the country.

Protesters were violently surpressed in Oman around the time of the Arab Spring, with many protesters jailed or injured and some killed. 29 activists were jailed in 2012 for 'crimes' such as insulting the Sultan and have been identified as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.

The press is not free in Oman, everything it writes is subject to review, and this together with the lack of union organisation, makes it is difficult to get details of the views of the teachers. However it would appear that this is a brave strike in the face of a country which allows its citizens few rights. It goes almost without saying, that like many other absolute monarchies in the Middle East, with appalling human rights records, Oman is an ally of the the US and the UK.