World Bulletin / News Desk
Oil workers in Kuwait began an open-ended strike on Sunday to protest proposed government cutbacks as the Gulf country struggles with a prolonged slump in oil prices.
Thousands of workers gathered at the start of the local work-week in the town of Ahmadi, where the state-run Kuwait Oil Company has its headquarters, according to Dubai-based daily Gulf News.
The Kuwaiti government has introduced a new payroll scheme for all public employees and wants to include the country's roughly 20,000 oil workers -- which would mean an automatic cut in wages and incentives.
Kuwait’s oil workers union has rejected the plan, however, and called for exempting the country’s sprawling energy industry from the payroll scheme.
Within the first few hours of the strike, Farhan al-Ajami, head of Kuwait’s Union of Chemicals, said the labor action was "more successful than we expected", adding that the number of strikers was steadily increasing.
OPEC’s fourth largest oil producer, Kuwait currently manufactures three million barrels per day.
On Saturday, Wafaa al-Zaabi, chief executive of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), warned that the strike would cost the national oil sector between $36 million and $48 million in daily losses.
She said the KPC had contacted the Egyptian General Authority for Petroleum and the Indian Oil Corporation with a view "to providing Kuwait with the necessary technical labor to operate the oil installations during the strike".
She did not, however, elaborate as to the number of foreign workers who might be temporarily employed.
For his part, Saif al-Qahtani, head of Kuwait’s Federation of Petroleum Workers, which called the strike, said some workers had continued to work on Sunday "to supply electricity and water production plants with the needed energy".
Arab Gulf monarchies, which rely heavily on oil production, have been hard hit by the recent slump in global oil prices.
Representatives of both OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers are scheduled to meet in Doha on Sunday to discuss proposals for freezing petroleum output in an effort to boost flagging oil prices.Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Nisan 2016, 15:56