Oil workers in Kuwait hold strike against paycuts

Oil workers in Kuwait hold strike against paycuts
2 min read
17 April, 2016
Kuwaiti oil workers have gone on strike to protest against wage and incentive cuts saying that state company officials are not safeguarding workers' rights.
The union is also protesting plans to privatise parts of the oil sector [Getty]
Thousands of oil workers in Kuwait went on an open-ended strike on Sunday morning to protest against paycuts.

The workers had rejected an appeal yesterday by the oil minister to not take industrial action against their state employer.

The minister had said that there would be no reduction to their salaries and other benefits, but oil workers union chief Saif al-Qahtani said the minister had not offered anything new.

The union is also protesting plans to privatise parts of the oil sector, and Qahtai has said that the strike would continue until the workers' demands are met.

Hit by the sharp drop in crude oil prices, Kuwait is introducing a new payroll scheme for all public employees. The cut in wages and incentives extends to the country’s 20,000 oil workers.

Earlier in the week, the Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) said that the union had turned down an offer to join a committee to negotiate a settlement in exchange for a suspension of the spending cuts on Thursday.

The union chief defended the decision saying that negotiations were illegal and that they had already explored all means to reach a negotiated settlement with the oil officials to no avail.

The national oil conglomerate KPC has implemented an emergency plan it had hammered out last week as the strike was announced to ensure that local and international markets wouldn't be affected.

"Export operations are going ahead as planned and (KPC) is capable of responding to major international market demands, based on agreements with clients," KPC spokesman Sheikh Talal Khaled al-Sabah said in a statement.

Locally, all petrol stations will continue to be supplied as well as Kuwait's international airport and companies operating at the facility.

Shabah said some retirees and contractors were being recalled to provide additional manpower, and that the country's reserves of gasoline and petrol derivatives could last up to two months.

The Kuwaiti oil minister is in Doha today for a meeting of major oil producers to discuss an oil-production freeze.

A spokesman for the Kuwait Oil Co. (KOC), Saad al-Azemi, said on Twitter that "average production reached 1.1 million" barrels in Kuwait on Sunday.

Daily production in OPEC's fourth largest producer is normally around 3.0 million barrels per day.