Kuwait City (AFP) – Kuwait is deploying national guard units to run and protect some oil facilities after workers announced a major strike for this weekend, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Citing unnamed sources, daily Al-Rai said that units from the national guard will start deploying from Wednesday at some facilities in the Gulf state’s oil-rich southern region.
The units will provide protection and run operations at the facilities, the independent daily said.
Kuwait’s oil workers’ union decided to begin an open-ended strike from Sunday following a dispute with the oil ministry over proposed pay cuts.
Hit by the sharp drop in crude prices, Kuwait is introducing a new payroll scheme for all public employees and wants to include the country’s 20,000 oil workers, which would mean an automatic cut in wages and incentives.
The decision to strike was taken Monday at an emergency general assembly meeting of the union, a day after talks with acting oil minister Anas al-Saleh broke down without agreement.
The union said the strike would include all production units and other facilities in the country.
Sources cited by Al-Rai said Kuwait’s oil production of three million barrels per day would drop by between 500,000 bpd and one million bpd if the workers carry out their threat.
But the sources said exports and domestic sales would not be affected since any drop in production can be covered by strategic stocks.
Union chief Saif al-Qahtani said Monday that workers presented alternatives during the meeting with the minister but they were rejected.
The union is also protesting plans to privatise parts of the oil sector.