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Kuwait workers suspend strikes - media
March 20, 2012 / 7:02 PM / 6 years ago

Kuwait workers suspend strikes - media

DUBAI, March 20 (Reuters) - Customs workers, and employees at state-run Kuwait Airways, suspended their strikes on Tuesday after talks between labour unions and the government, Kuwaiti media reported.

Customs staff at ports and borders decided to “suspend” their strike over pay so more discussions could take place, the al-Rai daily reported. They had been on strike for a week.

State news agency KUNA said Kuwait Airways staff had also gone back to work. They walked out on Sunday, halting all flights.

It was not immediately clear whether a final wage agreement had been reached in either case.

The customs strike caused delays at the OPEC member state’s ports, but did not block oil exports, thanks to contingency plans. Customs employees last staged a strike in October, briefly halting oil shipments.

Unions have been more active since last year’s Arab Spring uprisings in the region.

Economists and government policymakers have said that while the Gulf state can afford wage rises now, thanks to high oil prices, it risks longer-term trouble if salaries keep rising and crude prices fall.

Unions argue wages have not kept up with the cost of living -- the average inflation rate climbed to a three-year high 4.8 percent in 2011 -- and that pay increases at management level are not reflected lower down the pay scale.

The latest round of strikes follows a snap election last month which saw the Islamist-led opposition win control of Kuwait’s parliament. (Reporting by Sylvia Westall, additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by David Hulmes)

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