A walkout by thousands of Kuwaiti oil workers entered its second day on Monday, slashing production by over 60 percent as the government looks abroad to recruit foreign employees.
“To all workers in the oil sector… the strike continues,” the Kuwait oil workers union said on Twitter.
The OPEC member’s crude production dropped from 3.0 million barrels per day to 1.1 million bpd, and refining output dived to 520,000 bpd from 930,000 bpd due to the strike.
Spokesman for Kuwait National Petroleum Co. (KNPC) Khaled al-Assoussi said Monday that Kuwait was still exporting crude oil and refined products.
He said on his Twitter account that three refineries were operating in accordance with an emergency plan at 55 percent of their capacity.
The cabinet on Sunday described the strike as “illegal” and called for legal action against the workers union.
The cabinet also ordered national oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) to recruit manpower from outside the Gulf state to operate some of its oil facilities.
The workers union described the strike as “very successful” adding that thousands have joined.
They are protesting against plans by the government to cut incentives, benefits and wages for current and new workers following the sharp drop in oil revenues.
Ahead of the strike, the workers rejected a pledge by acting oil minister Anas al-Saleh and KPC to suspend all austerity measures targeting employees and to start fresh talks.
Kuwait is introducing a new payroll scheme for all public employees and wants to include the country’s 20,000 oil workers, which would mean an automatic cut in wages and incentives.
KPC said on Sunday that reserves of gasoline and petrol derivatives were “enough to meet the country’s demands for 25 days and strategic reserves could suffice for 31 more days”.
The union is also protesting against plans to privatize parts of the oil sector.