Kuwait port workers stage pay strike

AFP , Sunday 25 Sep 2011

Shipping operations slow as nearly 1,000 employees at the emirate's three ports down tools, demanding better pay and working conditions

Hundreds of Kuwaiti port workers begin a strike for more pay, disrupting operations at the country's three commercial ports, according to a trade union leader 

Head of Kuwaiti ports trade union, Ali al-Sukoni said, "We have stopped work for two hours. We will continue doing this every day until our demands for better pay and working conditions are met," speaking to AFP by phone.

Sukoni said that most of the 850 workers at the three ports have joined the strike and that "operations have been affected."

Port workers briefly stopped work more than two years ago to demand a 35 per cent increase in basic salaries and other incentives. They ended their strike after being promised their demands will be met.

But the promise was not kept.

The oil-rich Gulf state has been hit by a string of strikes by employees in various ministries and government agencies, seeking an increase in salaries.

Those strikes escalated after the government earlier this month bowed to a threat by oil workers to strike and boosted their salaries at a cost of more than $500 million a year.

Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali has said that the wages bill in the budget has more than doubled over the past decade.

Spending in the Kuwaiti budget has tripled since 2005 to a record $71 billion, according to official figures, with public sector salaries estimated to amount to at least a third of the expenditure.

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