Kuwait prepares for oil worker strike

Oil Minister Ali Al Omair says a contingency plan will be put in place early next week if 19,000 workers do not cancel a threat to strike over bonus cuts
Kuwait prepares for oil worker strike
By Courtney Trenwith
Thu 06 Feb 2014 11:40 AM

Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali Al Omair has moved to ensure the Gulf state’s oil output is not disrupted if workers carry out a threat to strike in two weeks.

The Kuwait Oil Workers Union, which represents some of the industry’s 19,000 workers, says its members will stop work after the government-owned oil companies refused to reinstate a bonus scheme previously paid each year.

Known as the ‘success partnership bonus’, the payment was made annually according to profits recorded above expectations.

But last month the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation said the payments had become too excessive and would be cut.

Meetings between representatives of the union and KPC have not reached any agreement.

Kuwait Oil Workers Union boss Abdulaziz Al Sharthan said the average wages of Kuwaiti oil workers were only half those of counterparts in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar.

However, three other oil worker unions have said they will not participate in the strike, Kuwait Times reported.

Al Omair said the OPEC country’s 3m barrels per day (bpd) output would not be affected. A one-quarter of its oil is exported in the form of refined products.

"We will not wait for too long, and if the oil trade unions do not call off the strike [threat] by the beginning of next week, we will take all measures to protect our employees and installations," he said, according to AFP.

"We will seek the assistance of all state agencies, including the national guard [and] interior ministry.

“[If the workers do strike], we have employees... to operate refineries and production lines for Kuwait to meet its commitments internally and abroad.”

The minister also said the decision to cut bonuses would not be reversed.

“There is no turning back from the [KPC] board of director’s decision to reduce the ‘Success Partnership bonus’,” Al Omair was quoted as saying.

“In the meantime, we hope that workers and unions understand that a strike will not be in anyone’s best interest as we plan to review all allowances and financial privileges with the Supreme Petroleum Council and the Civil Services Commission.”

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