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Oil unions in Kuwait resume negotiations over demands

17 May, 2016In an effort to end the indefinite strike announced in April, a delegation from IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate the Oil and Petrochemical Industries Workers Confederation (OPIWC) and oil unions in the country met with the Kuwaiti prime minister on 20 April.

The meeting resulted in the immediate development of a mechanism sponsored by the prime minister's office for discussing workers' demands. In addition, a tripartite committee composed of the cabinet, the state owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and the OPIWC was formed. 

Following the intervention by Kuwait's political leadership, as well as promises made for negotiations with unions on their demands and guarantees of no sanctions against the striking workers, the strike ended on 20 April. 

The committee met for the first time on 25 April, and the meeting resulted in: 

  • A referral of the workers' demands to a neutral legal committee by the Cabinet for its decision within two weeks
  • A freeze on oil workers' wage cuts until the legal committee has completed its work 
  • KPC taking the necessary legal steps to count the strike days as working days for the workers
  • Handing in a study by the OPIWC on the gradual reduction of costs and profit maiximizing of oil sector without having a negative impact on workers rights
  • Examining the OPIWC's observations on the negative implications of including the oil sector in the strategic alternative draft.  Over the past months, the government of Kuwait has developed a new draft law for public sector jobs called the Strategic Alternative to Salary Scale. The law includes measures to reduce government costs by harmonizing pay.

Saif al-Qahtani president of OPIWC said:

“We appreciate the efforts of Kuwait's political leadership to end the current dispute and look forward to genuine negotiations to guarantee the rights of oil sector workers, putting an end to this legal dispute."

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said: 

"IndustriALL is closely following how the negotiations develop and stands in solidarity and support with to brothers and sisters of OPIWC, as well as all workers in Kuwait's petroleum sector."