Kuwait oil and gas workers to strike over pay cuts

Workers expect cuts to jobs, salaries and benefits as low oil prices hit government coffers

Oil prices rise as Iran backs output cap; UAE expects positive impact

Thousands of workers at Kuwait’s state-owned oil, gas and petrochemical companies will strike from Sunday April 17 as a dispute over government plans to cut their benefits and wages continues.

The president of the Oil and Petrochemical Industries Workers Confederation Saif Al-Qahtani told a news conference yesterday that the general strike would begin from 7am, according to Reuters.

He did not specify how long the strike would last.

Production will not be affected by the protest, a spokesperson for Kuwait Petroleum Corp said, but some oil facilities may be shut down temporarily.

Other companies where workers plan to strike include Kuwait Oil Company, Kuwait Oil Tanker Company, Equate Petrochemical Industries Company and Kuwait Gulf Oil Company.

Oil workers in the country fear cuts to jobs, salaries and benefits packages will come from a planned government overhaul of the public sector payroll system. They are also protesting plans to privatise part of the oil sector.

The government wants to include up to 20,000 oil workers under its new public payroll system as low oil prices hit coffers, according to reports.

Al-Qahtani said that workers presented alternatives to the cuts during a Sunday meeting with ministers but they were rejected.

Kuwait is expected to post a budget deficit of KD 12.2bn ($40.2bn) for 2016-2017, nearly 50 per cent higher than the previous year.

The country’s Finance Ministry said in January that revenues would only cover 71 per cent of state salaries and associated costs, estimated at KD 10.4bn.