(Reuters) - Kuwaiti oil and gas workers have ended a three-day strike that had temporarily cut the OPEC member’s crude production by nearly half, local newspaper Al Jarida reported late on Tuesday, citing the trade union.
News that the strike was over came just hours after Kuwait’s oil minister had ruled out negotiations with the employees until they stopped their action, while one of the union leaders said the thousands of workers would hold out until planned public sector pay cuts were canceled.
U.S. oil prices CLc1 fell slightly after the news. Oil markets had rallied this week as the strike forced Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) to cut output to as little as 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd), down from a normal level of about 3 million bpd. By Tuesday output had recovered to around 1.5 million bpd.
Workers fear reduced salaries, benefits and staff layoffs will be part of a planned government overhaul of the payroll system in the public sector.
In an interview with Kuwaiti TV channel al-Rai, Kuwait’s acting oil minister, Anas al-Saleh, said production would continue and that no talks would proceed during a strike.
“We cannot sit down at the negotiating table with the unions during a strike. We will achieve the impossible to continue to operate the oil sector despite the strike,” Saleh said.
Unions had not said how long the walkout would last. Non-Kuwaiti oil workers are not on strike.
Reporting by Josephine Mason; Additional reporting by Catherine Ngai and Jonathan Leff; Editing by Matthew Lewis
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