Kuwait - No consultation with oil unions over new pay scales

The unions representing Kuwait’s oil workers were not consulted when a new pay scale was introduced. In the first quarter of 2016 the Government of Kuwait prepared a new draft law for public sector jobs called the Strategic Alternative Salary Scale. The law included measures to reduce government costs by “harmonising” pay. Oil workers are covered by separate labour legislation and should have been exempt from the new plan. The state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) decided however to unilaterally impose the new plan and issued new regulations without consultation with the unions. The new regulations entailed cuts in oil workers’ wages and an end to longstanding benefits.

The oil workers’ unions urged the company and the government to withdraw the plan, and threatened to strike if it did not do so. The response of KPC was to announce that it would continue with its ‘rationalisation’ programme, including the reduction in salaries, benefits and other incentives to staff, and that it had a strategic plan ready to face any strikes. It said that the National Guard and oil facilities security staff would be used to run operations in the event of a strike, specialist workers would be brought in from other countries, and striking employees would be penalised.

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