‘A serious violation of treaties’: ITF warns Kuwait of potential breach of international law

November 7, 2019

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has written to the prime minister of Kuwait to warn him that plans to use the military to break a planned strike by civil aviation workers would break international law.

Members of the Civil Aviation Labor Union of Kuwait have given notice that they intend to exercise their legal right to take strike action on 11, 13 and 18 November. They have been in dispute with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) over an allowance for all civil aviation workers. An agreement has been signed about the issue, but implementation has been delayed without explanation.

The ITF has been told that the DGCA plans to replace striking workers with members of the military. The letter from ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton to Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah warns: “The use of state apparatus to harass and intimidate trade union leaders and activists because of their legitimate democratic activities is a serious violation of treaties to which Kuwait is a signatory, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention 87 (on Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The ILO has regularly held that the hiring of workers to break a strike in a sector such as civil aviation, which cannot be regarded as an essential sector in the strict sense of the term and hence one in which strikes might be forbidden, constitutes a serious violation of freedom of association.”
The letter concludes: “In order to find a peaceful resolution, we offer ourselves to be part of an urgent open dialogue between the government and the union in the hope of avoiding the strike action and further escalation of the conflict.”

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