IT IS paradoxical to see the protesting oil sector employees raising slogans such as, “We will never sell our nation,” while an oil labor syndicate official is announcing that “the strike will cost the country KD 12 billion in 10 days”.
This means the protestors are intentionally causing losses to the country. These losses are equal to the expected national budget deficit, making us wonder how they could claim they will not sell their country yet cause enormous financial losses just because the government, as part of its austerity measures, has reduced or amended some of their extravagant allowances which do not exceed KD 200 million.
Unfortunately, some are raising gigantic slogans yet their actions contradict these slogans. This nation, which the oil sector employees “will never sell”, is for everyone and it is going through a challenging economic and financial phase as a result of the global oil crisis.
It is natural for constitutional institutions to take measures. Perhaps, these measures will be painful for some, but in the long run, these measures will help in remedying the disease. However, everything seems to be different when it comes to the strike of oil sector employees. Despite the fact that their salaries have not been touched, they went ahead in their attempt to blackmail the State just to protect their ‘recreation’ allowances which are not enjoyed by other State employees.
These allowances are not enjoyed by workers whose nature of job is not less dangerous than those working in the oil sector, or even more dangerous like the firemen, policemen, armed forces and others who deal with invisible risks.
Countries usually unify the salary scale of their employees and it is applicable to the new appointees whereas the old employees continue to receive the old salary and this is what is happening in Kuwait now.
Nevertheless, it is unusual to distinguish salaries of a certain sector with that of other sectors, and in this case, with a huge margin that could exceed the salaries of senior officials in other sectors. Definitely, this is not considered just. In fact, it could become a source of dissatisfaction and chaos once other sectors demand for the same privileges.
Unfortunately, this is what has been happening in the past years because the government succumbed to blackmails of employees in the oil sector, whereas the support and encouragement of the Parliament on this issue is merely for electoral reasons. As a result, the salary increments went overboard in terms of the budget, up to a point where it became the main source of deficit.
This situation instilled the ‘flu’ of blackmailing in the body of the State because at that time, “the voice of the wicked ate the trader’s money”. This went on until the government stood against illegal demands such that accusations were hurled, such as “public fund thieves, squanderers and corrupt” among other claims.
These claims served as launch pads for some people to serve their personal interests. These people have no tangible reform projects. This is what encouraged employees in the oil sector to go on strike and cause losses to the nation and losses incurred on the first day is said to be equal to what they can get in a year.
No one in Kuwait says that the government does not make mistakes; all the governments in the world make mistakes whereas the political forces and the people have comments on them. However, it is the duty of these governments to preserve the supreme interests of the country. When the country is facing danger that threatens income and national security, the government must take action immediately.
Well done, the Cabinet for confronting the strike with the hand of law and for mandating the minister of social affairs and labor to take necessary measures against those who are responsible for the losses incurred by the country due to the strike.
The strike consists of a clear hostile element against the State, especially when those in charge of such actions seek for foreign support to fortify their evil act, similar to what some destructive factions did when they sought the support of international human rights organizations by telling lies about Kuwait and some other GCC countries.
Indeed, the social and economic national security are the principles of stability that should be preserved and protected by every loyal citizen. It is unacceptable for anyone to play this sensitive tune for the sake of receiving secondary and personal entertainment allowances.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah – Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times