Kuwait - Strike breaking tactics used

The Oil and Petrochemical Industries Workers Confederation (OPIWC), representing workers at state-owned oil, gas and petrochemical companies, began negotiations with the KPC and the acting oil minister to prevent the implementation of the Strategic Alternative Pay Scale. The union also sought the establishment of a joint committee to ensure full consultation over any changes to legislation and to seek assurances that the oil sector would be exempt from the Strategic Alternative bill.

Negotiations broke down, however, and the oil workers’ unions announced they would go on strike from 17 April. The strike affected five state-owned companies, the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), a subsidiary of KPC, Kuwait Oil Company, Kuwait Oil Tanker Company, Equate Petrochemical Industries Company and Kuwait Gulf Oil Company.

As promised the National Guard was brought in to “protect” the oil plants and ensure they kept functioning, and KNPC appealed to Egypt and India to provide technical staff to keep production at its plants going during the strike. Meanwhile, the government asked the relevant authorities to take legal action against the strike, which it considered illegal, and bring those involved to account.

The strike was suspended after three days when OPIWC met the Prime Minister to ask for a mechanism to discuss the workers’ demands. A tripartite committee composed of the cabinet, the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and OPIWC was formed, negotiations with the unions on their demands were assured and guarantees were given that no striking workers would be sanctioned. Negotiations were successfully concluded on 24 May 2016 with a 7.5 per cent pay rise for oil workers.

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