No milk, no salad and no flights – but lots of sand

March 21, 2012
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Writing in Kuwait Times, Badrya Darwish in a column “No milk, no salad and no flights – but lots of sand”, said that the current situation in Kuwait was hilarious.

“It is unprecedented that everything is closed and we are all trapped. At least before, when the price of tomatoes suddenly increased, I told myself ‘Never mind! I will eat my penne (macaroni) with white sauce. No need for tomatoes. Actually, penne tastes delicious in white sauce.’I told myself that I was going to eat green salad. Let over-priced tomatoes rot in co-ops. I was eating lettuce and cucumbers,” she wrote.

“Today, however, there is nothing. There are no cucumbers and no lettuce. Even if I want to eat my penne with bechamel sauce, there is no milk to prepare it. On top of that, as a Kuwaiti I would have travelled to Dubai to escape the crisis till tomatoes and milk hit the shelves again. As you all know, Kuwait Airways also decided to strike at the same time as the customs and grounded its fleet. Now we are stranded. And not only that, but we are so lucky that we get sandstorms at the same time. Jazeera alone cannot cope with the rush to Dubai on the weekends. So, we are stuck and forced to watch what will happen with the clash between KA and the government.”

Strikes in Kuwait 

  • Although workers are legally permitted to join unions, less than 5% of the labour force is unionised. There is only one trade union federation allowed by law and the right to strike is limited.
  • Strikes are increasing despite being only allowed in the private sector, which is not organised, is very small and is mostly composed of foreigners.
  • In the event of a collective dispute, a dispute resolution procedure must be exhausted before lawful strike action can be taken. There is, however, no protection for strikers against retribution by the state. The courts can dissolve any union that violates the labour laws or that threatens public order and morality.

 

Government’s attitude:

 

  • All strikes must be kept within the law, which bans strikes from affecting the running of the country or endangering national security.
  • Workers who overstep the boundaries may face legal action
  • Strikes and sit-ins delay development plans, disrupts the workflow of government agencies and reflect negatively on Kuwait

 

Strikes in 2010:

 

  • In April, oil workers protested against privatisation plans and wages
  • In June, the Kuwait Trade Union Federation held a demonstration to protest against what it called the government’s selective method of awarding salary increases
  • In August, around 185 bus drivers went on strike over a recent pay cut of KD 50
  • In November, baggage handlers and airport cleaners went on strike.
  • Information from the International Trade Union Confederation
Kuwait Airways
  • Kuwait Airways was established in 1954 on the wave of the oil boom of the 1940s and initially served only Abadan, Beirut, Damascus and occupied Jerusalem.
  • However, one year later, the fledgling carrier faced economic hardship and the government of Kuwait took a 50 per cent interest in the airline, subsequently doubling the company’s capital. It later took out a 100% share in the company.
  • Kuwait Airways entered the jet age in 1962 by leasing a Comet 4-C, the world’s first jet-engined airliner.
  • In the 1960s, the national carrier rapidly expanded its route map, and scheduled services to London began three times a week. To keep pace with fast-moving aviation needs, three Boeing 707s were delivered in 1968. Ten years later, Kuwait Airways had an all Boeing 707 fleet of eight aircraft.
  • In 1978, Kuwait Airways entered the wide-body age by taking delivery of its first two B747-200s, adding a third the following year. This expansion allowed Kuwait Airways to extend its network to New York to the west and Manila to the east.
  • Modernisation of the fleet continued, and four B727-200s were delivered in 1980-1981. Two years later eight Airbus A310s and A300-600s were delivered, and in 1986 three Boeing 767-200ER aircraft joined the wide-body fleet.
  • However, following the destruction of its premises and 15 of its aircraft during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait between August 1990 and February 1991, the airline was re-launched.
  • Kuwait Airways has a fleet of 17 aircraft: three A320-200s, three A310-300s, five A300-605Rs, four A340-300s and two Boeing B777s.
  • The airline had around 6,000 employees in 2009.
  • Talk about the need to privatize the airline have gained in intensity in the last five years amid strong recommendations by aviation experts that privatization was the only way for Kuwait Airways to compete efficiently against other airlines.
         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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