Civil aviation authority says operations unaffected by stoppage

KUWAIT: Hundreds of workers at Kuwait’s international airport held a one-hour strike yesterday to demand better working conditions, threatening to stage longer walkouts in the coming days. Ahmed Mohammed Al-Kandari, a union representative, said workers were calling for improved treatment and to be compensated for daily exposure to pollution and noise. The right to strike is guaranteed for citizens in Kuwait, but such actions remain rare in the country. Foreign workers do not have the right to strike.

Yesterday’s strike by Kuwaiti staff did not affect flights, officials said, but the workers’ union said the strike disrupted six flights. “Airport traffic is very normal,” said Sheikh Salman Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah, head of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Another official, Saleh Al-Fadaghi, the airport’s director of operations, also said flights were not affected. “During the one-hour strike, 19 flights were operated as scheduled. There were five departures and 14 arrivals,” he said. Fadaghi praised all personnel and employees at the airport who maintained regular operations, affirming keenness on “enhancing employees’ skills and preserving their rights”.

Kandari said the purpose of the strike was not to disrupt operations but “to make our voices heard”. He added that Kuwaiti workers would hold a further two-hour strike tomorrow and a 24-hour strike on Sunday if their demands are not met. Of 4,500 civil aviation employees, 1,500 took part in yesterday’s strike, he said.

The DGCA had announced two days ago that shift payments were unified for personnel working at the airport and air traffic control. DGCA Director Yousif Al-Fauzan has said the Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued a resolution on Thursday explaining that shifts would be of eight hours and every air traffic control staff member will work morning, afternoon and evening shifts on three consecutive days, followed by two days off.

Fauzan added airport staff will work the same eight hours for three consecutive days followed by one day off instead of the old system of working a full 24 hours followed by 48 hours off. But the DGCA employees syndicate chairman Jaber Al-Azmi said the CSC only approved allowances for air traffic control staff and that the union insists on unified allowances for all staff members working shifts. “We have the minutes of a previous meeting between the union and civil aviation and it was agreed that the unified allowance is deserved by all employees of the directorate,” he said yesterday, adding the union is defending the demands and rights of workers who were deprived of the allowance. – Agencies