Kuwaiti oil and gas workers end strike | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 20.04.2016
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Middle East

Kuwaiti oil and gas workers end strike

The oil and gas workers' trade union has posted a statement on Twitter calling off the action by thousands of staff. The three-day strike saw Kuwait's crude production cut by more than half.

"In honor of his highness the Emir (of Kuwait) ... we have decided the following. First, the cancellation of the general strike and the attendance of all oil sector workers at their places of work beginning at seven in the morning on Wednesday 20 April 2016," the Oil and Petrochemicals Industries Workers' Confederation wrote on Tuesday evening.

The union further pledged "to make every effort to immediately return production to its previous level," after output fell by more than 50 percent to 1.1 million barrels per day when the walk-out began on Sunday.

The reversal followed an earlier vow by the union that the strike would continue until its demands were met, after oil production recovered on Tuesday to 1.5 million barrels per day.

'No negotiation'

OIl well in Kuwait

Kuwait produces 10 percent of the world's oil

The call for Kuwaiti nationals to return to work followed a refusal by the country's oil minister to negotiate with unions until they stopped their action. Non-Kuwaiti oil workers were not on strike.

"We cannot sit down at the negotiating table with the unions during a strike. We will achieve the impossible to continue to operate the oil sector despite the strike," acting oil minister Anas al-Saleh told Kuwaiti TV channel al-Rai.

Thousands of people took part in the walk-out over plans for oil and gas industry reforms, which would see salaries and benefits cut and staff laid off.

The global oil industry is smarting from a dramatic fall in the price of oil over the past 18 months, which has led to tens of thousands of job losses.

On Sunday, the cabinet gave orders for the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) to recruit contractors from abroad to operate some of its facilities in defiance of the strike.

The stoppage in OPEC's fourth largest producer had helped world prices to recover after a sharp fall on Monday following the failure of major producers to reach agreement on a proposed output freeze. But prices dipped again after news spread of the strike being called off.

Besides the fall in crude production, refining also fell 40 percent to 520,000 barrels per day and natural gas output dropped by half to 620 million cubic feet (17.6 million cubic meters).

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