Kuwait customs strike threatens oil shipments

Row over wages sees over 4,000 customs employees strike for a second day
Kuwait customs strike threatens oil shipments
Port employees plan to hold daily strikes for better wages and working conditions
By Bloomberg
Tue 11 Oct 2011 10:36 AM

Customs employees in Kuwait went on strike for a second day
and threatened to block oil exports in a protest over wages, a customs union
official said.

“Late yesterday, about six tankers needed permission to
leave the ports but it wasn’t given to them,” Fahad al-Ajmi, a union board
member, said in a telephone interview from Kuwait today. “We’re not going to
stop our strike until the Cabinet itself issues a statement supporting our
demands.”

The strike, which involves at least 4,000 workers, has also
disrupted operations at the country’s main airport, sea ports and border
crossings, according to al-Ajmi.

Kuwait’s government “rejected” strikes and said demands by
state employees should be discussed through “calm dialogue,” the state news
agency KUNA reported today, citing government spokesman Ali al-Rashed. The
government set up a team to “take all necessary measures to run the country to
fill gaps caused by strikes,” KUNA said.

State-run Kuwait Petroleum Corp. said yesterday its business
has been operating normally.

“Arrangements are being made to get permission for tankers
to load and leave for the next three days,” KPC Chief Executive Officer Farouk
al-Zanki said in a phone interview. “There is nothing serious so far and operations
are normal, so far.”

Kuwait is the fifth-largest producer in the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries and pumped 2.56 million barrels a day of crude
oil in September.

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