Kuwait City: Kuwait is deploying national guard units to run and protect some oil facilities after workers announced a major strike for this weekend, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Citing unnamed sources, daily Al Rai said that units from the national guard will start deploying from Wednesday at some facilities in the Gulf state’s oil-rich southern region.

The units will provide protection and run operations at the facilities, the independent daily said.

Kuwait’s oil workers’ union decided to begin an open-ended strike from Sunday following a dispute with the oil ministry over proposed pay cuts.

Hit by the sharp drop in crude prices, 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.

The decision to strike was taken on Monday at an emergency general assembly meeting of the union, a day after talks with acting oil minister Anas Al Saleh broke down without agreement.

The union said the strike would include all production units and other facilities in the country.

Sources cited by Al Rai said Kuwait’s oil production of three million barrels per day would drop by between 500,000 bpd and one million bpd if the workers carry out their threat.

But the sources said exports and domestic sales would not be affected since any drop in production can be covered by strategic stocks.

Union chief Saif Al Qahtani said on Monday that workers presented alternatives during the meeting with the minister but they were rejected.

The union is also protesting plans to privatise parts of the oil sector.

In a similar case, Oman avoided a major strike in its oil sector last November after workers protested the government’s perceived inaction to layoffs in the sector amid the oil slump.

Over 1,600 Omanis lost their jobs in contracting companies. It is legal to unionise in Oman, but strikes in the oil and gas sector are illegal because the country’s economy is largely dependent upon it.

There are more than 20,000 Omanis working in the oil and gas sector. There are also 25 operating trade unions in the sector.

— With inputs from AFP