Union chief re­it­er­ates oil work­ers’ de­mands

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Nawara Fat­ta­hova

In April, thou­sands of em­ploy­ees in the oil sec­tor went on a strike protest­ing against any de­duc­tion in their salaries and other ben­e­fits as part of the new strate­gic pay­roll al­ter­na­tive, and af­ter a drop in oil prices, which strongly af­fected na­tional in­come. Af­ter the strike in Kuwait, many oil com­pa­nies started tak­ing mea­sures by cut­ting their ex­pen­di­tures. The gov­ern­ment wants to in­tro­duce a new pay­roll scheme for all pub­lic em­ploy­ees in­clud­ing the 20,000 oil work­ers, which means an au­to­matic cut in wages and in­cen­tives.

Af­ter the three-day strike, which dropped lo­cal oil pro­duc­tion by 60 per­cent, the de­mands made by the work­ers were met. Af­ter the for­ma­tion of the new gov­ern­ment and par­lia­ment, this is­sue could be raised again. Kuwait Times in­ter­viewed Saif Al-Qah­tani, Head of Kuwait’s Oil Union, who spoke about var­i­ous is­sues re­lated to the rights of oil work­ers. Bad real­ity Kuwait Times: What are your views about the new Cab­i­net? Qah­tani:

The new Cab­i­net does not change the bad real­ity. If the new Cab­i­net doesn’t present a clear work plan soon, then it won’t be any dif­fer­ent than the previous one. Yet we are op­ti­mistic and with time we will be able to eval­u­ate and judge it. Saif Al-Qah­tani KT: What are your as­pi­ra­tions and do you have any new de­mands? Qah­tani:

We look for­ward to­wards a real de­vel­op­ment process in all fields in­clud­ing ex­pand­ing oil in­dus­tries and keep­ing the oil sec­tor away from pri­va­ti­za­tion. Hav­ing the private sec­tor as a partner in the oil sec­tor is theft of pub­lic funds. We also de­mand at­ten­tion to­wards man­power, at­tract­ing it, de­vel­op­ing it and im­prov­ing its skills, as this is the main el­e­ment and pil­lar of this in­dus­try.

KT: What chal­lenges do work­ers face? Qah­tani:

The gov­ern­ment’s poor per­for­mance is the big­gest ob­sta­cle. The gov­ern­ment is not able to de­velop or in­crease na­tional in­come. In ad­di­tion, it wrongly un­der­stands ra­tio­nal­iza­tion, and blames citizens for its fail­ures. Such of­fi­cials should be ter­mi­nated from their posts.

Till now, the gov­ern­ment or the par­lia­ment has not of­fi­cially ex­plained the strate­gic al­ter­na­tive. Ac­cord­ing to some peo­ple, this scheme should equal­ize the salaries of all em­ploy­ees in the pub­lic sec­tor, which will be a dis­as­ter. The wages should be set ac­cord­ing to eq­uity in duty re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and its im­por­tance. The la­bor mar­ket all over the world doesn’t fol­low such ran­dom la­bor rules, through which we might lose ex­pe­ri­enced skilled staff in all fields.

Re­gard­ing the eco­nomic re­form doc­u­ment, we haven’t seen any real re­forms and de­vel­op­ment. The re­forms should start with stop­ping wastage of pub­lic funds and cor­rup­tion and by not sell­ing the only source of in­come of the coun­try, which is the oil sec­tor. This op­tion should be far from con­sid­er­a­tion, and this sec­tor should be com­pletely con­trolled by the state, while the private sec­tor can be a partner in other sec­tors.

Eco­nomic re­form KT: What about the strate­gic pay­roll al­ter­na­tive and the eco­nomic re­form doc­u­ment? Qah­tani:

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