Workers union responds to KAC statement; sit-in still underway

Several MPs to join protest

KUWAIT: Kuwait Airways’ labor union issued a statement yesterday confirming plans to stage a sit-in today despite a statement from the company a few days ago urging them to call off their protest. The union is protesting what it describes as violation of the rights of some Kuwaiti pilots who say that they have lost their benefits following the carrier’s privatization procedures. Kuwait Airways Company (KAC) denied in a statement last Thursday any wrongdoings in terms of the workers’ transfer procedures, but the union responded yesterday and accused KAC management of lack of transparency, and sending contradictory messages on whether the carrier has fully been privatized or remains under the state’s control.

Several MPs are expected to join the sit-in that is reportedly going to take place outside Kuwait Airway’s building. The workers claim that KAC has violated their rights by canceling some of the privileges they enjoy as public service employees while the carrier is still yet to become fully privatized. They also argue that forcing them to sign papers by which they become eligible to transfer to other state departments is illegal.

Following closely
Meanwhile, Secretary General of Petroleum and Petrochemical Industry Workers Union Hazim Al-Enezi said his union is following closely happenings at Kuwait Airways in the form of arguments and undermining the rights of national labor and marginalizing the union’s role and ignoring its demands. “KAC should not take this role lightly, especially since aviation is among the sensitive and vital sectors that must be the focus of state officials to safeguard the national economy and daily aviation operations,” he said.

Enezi said the union’s announcement to hold a sit-in at the KAC headquarters came after exhausting all available means for the union and workers in receiving their incentives and rights, which they did not demand until after they were sure that they deserve them. Enezi said the KAC management must accept the union’s demands by forming a special committee to negotiate with the union’s management and reduce tensions.

He said the random employment policy behind closed doors based on influence and high salaries is unfair towards nationally qualified workers from within KAC, who are more efficient in leading their sector due to their experience in this field. Employment from outside will make bad things worse and take the aviation sector into uncharted territory and deteriorating service, and restoring Kuwait aviation to what it was before. He said taking a lead in development, dominance and international competition only comes with the choice of the right person in the right place. Enezi said his union supports demands of KAC workers and expresses hope that KAC understands workers’ demands and its serious attempts to resolve and contain the problem.

Pollution allowances
In other news, the Union of Workers at the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) asked the Civil Service Commission to approve risk and pollution allowance for all workers at electric power stations, who are working under pressure and in high magnetic fields, in addition to pollution, incendiary chemicals and a nitrogen stock that is dangerous to lives and safety of workers at all stations. Secretary General of MEW’s Union Nawaf Buyabes said the Civil Service Commission (CSC) did not do justice to a large number of workers at the power stations when it approved risk allowances for certain departments and rejected it for others, although the nature of work is the same for all. Buyabes said the work being done by workers at power stations is a great one and deserves more than just allowances that took a long time to approve although they are as low as KD 30-35.

Power restored
The appeals court ruled to restore power to a violating house after MEW cut electricity to the building, then refused to restore it. Lawyer Nasser Al-Ajmi filed a complaint on behalf of his client, because power supply cannot be interrupted without a court ruling.

Housing projects
Director of the Public Authority for Housing Welfare (PAHW) Bader Al-Wuqayan asked for allocating the site adjacent to West Abdullah Al-Mubarak project to the PAHW. He said that there is an area that is adjacent to the project that can be used to increase the number of housing lots. In other news, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh asked Kuwait Municipality to send the time schedule for the start and end of infrastructure works for blocks 3 and 4 in Khaitan. Saleh said the finance ministry wrote to the municipality on Sept 27, 2016, but did not receive an answer so far. Assistant Undersecretary for State Property Affairs Adel Al-Manae wrote to the municipality director about developing and upgrading infrastructure for state lots that are to be sold in a public auction.

Construction violations
Municipality Director General Mohammad Al-Manfouhi issued a circular stating that the new municipality law 33/2016 is now active and tackles violations in construction, and stipulates severe punishments for engineering offices, engineers or supervisors who build without a license. It includes a minimum fine of KD 5,000 and a maximum fine of KD 10,000, revoking the engineering office’s license and deporting non-Kuwaiti violators administratively.

Financial hub
Kuwait Municipality will put forward five development projects to contribute to making Kuwait a financial and commercial hub. These projects are the solid waste factory, a culture center in Egaila, Abdullah Al-Ahmad Street, Jahra seafront and Khuwaisat project, all according to the public-private-partnership (PPP) system.

By Meshaal Al-Enezi

 

This article was published on 08/01/2017