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Kuwait Times, Thursday, May 25, 2023 | Thul-Qidah 5, 1444

Kuwait Airways employees strike for better pay

Kuwait: The Workers’ Union of Kuwait Airways and Subsidiaries organized a two-hour partial strike on Monday in protest against low salaries, non-disbursement of rewards to frontline workers, tampering with workers’ rights and squandering their earnings. Head of the union Talal Al-Hajeri said the partial strike is a first step, and in the event that employees’ demands are not met, they will resort to escalatory steps, including stopping air traffic until all demands are approved.

Hajeri explained salaries of Kuwaiti employees at Kuwait Airways do not exceed KD 800, while new foreign employees are given salaries of up to KD 4,000, in addition to KD 250 in road allowance. He wondered why a road allowance is given in a small country such as Kuwait.

Hajeri spoke about the continuous disregard for Kuwaiti employees’ dues, adding the union is keen on preventing employees from entering into disputes with foreign colleagues. “But what’s clear is that the administration’s policy is intentional in its provocation of Kuwaiti employees to lead them into mistakes with their new colleagues, which will expose them to accountability and legal actions against them,” he alleged.

The union’s secretary Fahd Mansour Ajmi said repeated claims that were submitted to the company’s board of directors were repeatedly ignored. He said this partial strike came as a result of an extraordinary general assembly meeting that was held recently, where it was approved to pay a salary increase to a certain number of senior department officials and not the rest of Kuwaiti employees, indicating that when the decision was objected, the response from the board of directors to the objectors was to go back to government employment. Ajmi appealed through the media to the Cabinet to restore the rights of the strikers, considering Kuwait Airways is not a private airline owned by individuals, but a government carrier.

Chief Instructor of Pilots at Kuwait Airways Captain Mowaffaq Al-Maoud warned there will be no flights next week if their demands are not met or if employees are prevented from organizing another sit-in. Maoud added that Kuwait Airways employees still do not know whether they fall under the private sector or the government. “If we belong to the private sector, labor support must be disbursed. If we belong to the government sector, we demand equitable salaries and rights with other government sectors,” he said.

Earlier, the company’s labor union had called on employees for a “civilized” partial strike that does not to drift into chaos. The union indicated the aim of the strike was to deliver a peaceful and civilized message and that the national carrier will not be exposed to risk of operational safety.

Late Sunday, Kuwait Airways has assured its customers that the partial strike will not affect passenger movement or airport operations. The national carrier affirmed it is coordinating with the interior ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to achieve this goal. It urged customers to abide by their flight schedules and follow up messages sent to them about any changes. It also appealed to customers to communicate with the airline’s official channels for any inquiry.

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