Kuwait healthcare workers to 'escalate' action over pay

Nurses and pharmacists angry at gov't failure to increase pay and job opportunities.
Kuwait healthcare workers to 'escalate' action over pay
By Joanna Hartley
Wed 04 Mar 2009 09:38 AM

Nurses and pharmacists in Kuwait are threatening to “escalate” industrial action over the government’s on-going failure to increase pay and employment opportunities, it was reported on Wednesday.

Nurses are angry over a refusal by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to address their pay concerns, despite approving pay rises for other professions, according to Kuwait daily Kuwait Times.

Bassel Al-Azmi, head of the Kuwait Nursing Association (KNA), said nurses were ready to take stronger action over the pay issue if the CSC continued to ignore their demands.

Meanwhile, pharmacists have warned that if the poor employment opportunities currently faced by Kuwaiti pharmacists continued its members would be forced to resort to strike action.

Dr Tariq Al Habib, head of the Kuwait Pharmacists' Society, said the society had repeatedly warned the relevant official bodies against neglecting its members' needs, but the warnings had apparently fallen on deaf ears.

The Ministry of Health currently employs less than 200 Kuwaiti pharmacists with the total amount of their salaries not exceeding KD3m annually.

While pharmacists were reluctant to stage sit-ins, given the possible negative effects of doing so on patients, the ministry's failure to meet their demands left them with little option, Al Habib added.

The KNA has also hit out at a government move to merge the doctors association with a consultative council at the Ministry of Health.  

Nurses and pharmacists were as important to future healthcare development as medics, and should also have a seat at the top table, the KNA said.

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