Agreement appears close in long-running Kuwaiti strike

The director general of the Public Institution for Social Security has agreed to amended pay rise for workers who’ve been on strike for three weeks, forcing shutdown of the department

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

One of the longest running worker strikes in Kuwait appears close to coming to an end after management of the Public Institution for Social Security (PISS) agreed to an amended pay rise demand, according to daily Al Anba.

In an official letter quoted by the newspaper, PISS director general Hamad Al Humaidhi says he supports the amended salary scale presented by the Labor Union and had informed the Employees Affairs Department, which is responsible for paying public sector staff.

PISS employees have been on strike for three weeks, causing the department to shutdown and 450,000 transactions to be suspended, according to the newspaper.

It is rare for Kuwaitis to strike.

But the salary hike agreement also has come a day after the government froze public sector salaries as it prepares to release new pay guidelines intended to be more transparent.

The new pay scale is expected to create unified standards for paying employees according to their job classification and qualifications, making it more difficult for workers to demand pay increases, bonuses and allowances based on their connections within the department or organisation.

However, it is still some time away, with the proposal to be debated after parliament resumes in October.

More than 90 percent of Kuwaiti citizens who work are in the public sector, which is extremely bloated.

MPs had previously urged the striking employees to wait until the state finalised the new pay scale, while Finance Minister Anas Al Saleh had reportedly refused to meet with the labour union and discuss their demands until the workers returned to work.

Al Humaidhi had urged the labour union to have “more flexibility” in their demands.

“The delay also hurts the reputation of the institution,” he said.

The union countered with an amended offer, which has been accepted.

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