Kuwait oil workers call off strike, return to work

Kuwait City: The Kuwait Oil Workers Union today called off a “total strike” and decided to return to work, hours after a fresh appeal by the acting oil minister. “In respect for the emir and in loyalty to him… we have decided to cancel the total strike,” an official statement by the union said, ending action that had given support to oil prices.

The statement said workers would go back to work at 0400 GMT. “We trust the emir… for the protection of the rights of oil workers,” said the union statement, posted on its official Twitter account.

The surprising decision came only hours after the union leaders told a press conference that they would continue their strike, having rejected all appeals. The union leaders insisted that they would end the strike only after all their demands were met in full including the scrapping of plans to cut their wages and benefits.

The strike, which began on Sunday, slashed OPEC members’ crude and natural gas production by more than half. Kuwait’s crude production dropped from 3.0 million barrels per day to just 1.5 million bpd and refining output dived to 520,000 bpd from 930,000 bpd.

Acting oil minister Anas al-Saleh called on workers in a television interview Tuesday night to return to work and start negotiations with authorities.

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