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Tue 27 May 2014 12:24 PM

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Kuwait's public sector workers to strike over wages

A national union is planning a rare stop-work protest on June 16 as it calls for a unified wage system

Kuwait's public sector workers to strike over wages

Public sector workers in Kuwait are planning a rare strike in protest over wages.

Members of the National Union of Kuwait Workers and Employees plan to carry out a sit-in at the ministries’ compound in South Surra on June 16, Kuwait Times reported.

The union is demanding a unified payroll system for public sector employees but did not provide any further details.

The Kuwaiti government already is reviewing public sector wages. A person close to the review told Arabian Business in April the government was planning to increase its total salary budget by KD248m ($880m) when a new scale is introduced.

The new scale would make public sector salary expectations clearer, with better defined wage brackets for particular roles and responsibilities.

More than 90 percent of Kuwaiti workers are in the significantly bloated public sector. Officials concede productivity is as much as half of what it could be but argue giving citizens a job is a form of welfare expected as the country consistently records budget surpluses due to oil wealth.

However, the government has been urged to reign in re-occurring spending such as wages, with the Finance Minister warning Kuwait will record its first budget deficit in 20 years by the end of the decade.

Unions and stop-work protests are rare in the Gulf but Kuwait has the only semi-democracy in the region.