Kuwait Airways, the Gulf state’s national carrier, yesterday said that it cancelled flights for a third day in a row following a strike by its employees. Adel Bouresli, the Company’s Relations and Media Head, said that the airline cancelled flights to and from Kuwait until 5pm.
“The company expresses its regret about the situation and stresses its endeavours to provide the best comfort for its passengers,” the PR Head said in remarks carried by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). Ailing Kuwait Airways has a fleet of 17 aircraft that fly mainly to destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.
According to Kuwaiti reports, losses incurred by the company are in the millions of dollars. However, Abdullah Al Hajri, Chairman of the Union of Workers of Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) and its subsidiary companies, held the government responsible for the financial losses.
“This strike will completely paralyse all flights and operations of KAC,” he said as quoted by local daily Kuwait Times. “At the same time, stopping the operations of KAC due to the strike will make the companies served by KAC seek other companies to deal with, which is also a great loss for KAC.
“We were forced to go on this strike as a result of the negligence of the government for not fulfilling its promises or realising the deal signed with the union regarding wages and increasing allowances of KAC workers more than six months ago,” he said, quoted by the daily. The employees demanded allowances including screen allowance, infection allowance, shift allowance and other legal and fair allowances that KAC employees deserved, Al Hajri said.
The industrial action by the airline has hit Kuwaitis hard. A strike by customs officials who refused to resume work until they received better remunerations and greater benefits entered its sixth consecutive day. Kuwaitis reported that the customs officials’ strike had “badly impacted” the country after goods were barred from entering Kuwait, causing the prices of some commodities to shoot up.
A Kuwaiti quoted by Kuwait Times said that in some co-operative societies, prices of some commodities rose by 100 per cent. “The price of tomatoes, for instance, has soared by 100 per cent,” Ramzi from the Farwaniya Co-operative supermarket, said. “Also, the prices of other vegetables have increased as well. This has come about as a result of a shortage in fruits and vegetables.”
He said trucks carrying fruits and vegetables from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Turkey are stranded at the border. The government has insisted that it would not negotiate with strikers until they resume work. Six MPs have reportedly met the prime minister to seek a solution to the crisis and reports emerged that he will receive representatives of the striking workers.