KUWAIT: A number of labor unions yesterday strongly rejected the early retirement bill the parliament recently voted on and initially passed pending a second discussion. Oil and Petrochemical Industries Workers Federation (OPIWF), Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF), as well as the employees syndicates at Kuwait Oil Company (KOC), EQUATE, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) and Kuwait Oil Tankers Company (KOTC) yesterday held a press conference to discuss the bill they described as “undermining citizens’ rights.” Speaking at the conference, OPIWF Chairman Mohammed Al-Hajeri stressed that the bill undermines the rights of citizens and strongly condemned how quickly decisions related to the fate of tens of thousands of Kuwaitis are made.
Hajeri also expressed surprise on excluding a bill proposed and agreed upon last year to be substituted with one far “below the aspirations” of citizens working in both the public and the private sectors, who ought to be consulted in such matters. “MPs are the voice of the people who elected them to protect their rights,” he said, noting that the current bill will only benefit 6,000-6,500 employees.
Chairman of EQUATE employees syndicate Mohammed Hassan Al-Ajmi urged both the government and the parliament to reconsider the bill to help citizens overcome the impact of soaring prices and the high cost of living. Ajmi also called for reducing the age of retirement to 50, especially in tough jobs such as oil sector ones. Chairman of KNPC employees syndicate Obaid Farhoud labeled the new bill as ‘unfair’ and called for adopting the one agreed upon last year. KTUF Deputy Chairman Ahmed Al-Daihani totally rejected the new bill and called for making pensions equal to retirees’ total salaries.
Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah yesterday issued a new ministerial resolution on setting a fixed list of prices for 41 medications, pharmaceutical products and food supplements with the aim of keeping their prices at minimal rates. The new resolutions were made upon recommendations by the medicine pricing committee headed by Ministry of Health’s assistant undersecretary for medicine and food control Dr Abdullah Monjed Al-Bader, which had studied various items and original price documents endorsed by Kuwait’s embassies in the countries of origin with the ultimate goal of fulfilling GCC leaders’ desire to keep the prices of medicine in GCC states the lowest.
Outgoing Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Hossam Al-Roumi rejected a proposal by the Municipal Council to mandate the presence of fire extinguishers in private residences. In a letter he sent to the council concerning the minutes of a meeting held on Nov 26, Roumi approved all resolutions except a proposal made by member Meshaal Al-Hamdhan on safety precautions at private residences that call for installing smoke and gas detectors and having fire extinguishers in all houses.
Finance Ministry Undersecretary Saleh Al-Sarawi said 80 victims of the recent heavy rains have received compensation for the damage they suffered from. Sarawi added that compensations included damage to houses, furniture and vehicles, adding that the applications are categorized because the value varies from one application to another. He said around 2,700 applications are being currently studied and classified and that applicants will be compensated soon.
Work hours increased
The Ministry of Electricity and Water increased working hours based on Civil Service Commission decisions with regards to setting work hours – from 7:30 am until 2:30 pm. The decision will go into effect from Jan 2 for all ministry employees, Al-Anbaa reported yesterday. Informed sources said this decision goes along with the commission’s decisions to extend working hours, leaving the setting of time to authorities to suit each department. They said all logistics will be adjusted to agree with the decision.
By Meshaal Al-Enezi and A Saleh