Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

Kuwait ratified ILO Convention No. 87 (1948) on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise in 1961 and Convention No. 98 (1949) on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining in 2007.

In 2010, Kuwait enacted a new Labour Code but restrictions on trade union rights remain significant. The right to form or join a union is granted to Kuwaiti nationals but foreign workers are only allowed to join a union; they are barred from electing officers or being elected. Additionally, migrant workers need a certificate of good conduct and moral standing. The law also stipulates that every union needs at least 15 national Kuwaiti members and 100 members in total in order to be certified by the state. This condition affects organising for 80 per cent of the country's workforce. Union membership is further weakened by the exclusion of domestic workers from the Labour Code. The Maritime Act or of the Oil Sector Labour Law also set special rules on unionisation in these two sectors.

The new Labour Code provides for greater trade union pluralism at the grassroots level, but still allows only one union per sector and only one general union, the Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF). The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour has refused several unions certification because there were other existing unions in the same sector.

Unions are not adequately protected against employer or state actions that aim at limiting union membership and bargaining power. The law protects workers from unfair dismissal on the grounds of union activities but not from other forms of anti-union discrimination. There is no protection against interference by employers and the authorities are allowed to interfere in union activities. Trade unions are barred from conducting activities considered to constitute “political activism”. As the Minister’s approval is needed in order to make investments or receive donations, the government has a strong say in many union actions.

A union can be dissolved in various ways. The courts can mandate the dismantlement of unions deemed to violate laws or threaten public order and morals, or after a demand by the Ministry of Labour. Furthermore, a union can be dissolved by the Emir’s decree.

The right to collective bargaining is recognised only for the private sector. In the public sector, the government engages in “consultation” with the Government Workers’ Federation on issues raised by public workers, but not in collective bargaining. Even in the private sector collective bargaining rarely takes place. The restrictive conditions on organising of foreign workers as well as on registering new unions, the restriction of proper bargaining procedures for the public workers, the lack of protection against antiunion discrimination and the general anti-union stance of the government make collective bargaining exceptional.

In the private sector, in the event of an unresolved dispute, the union or the employers can ask for the Ministry’s mediation and in case mediation fails the dispute is then referred to a compulsory arbitration court, a two-month procedure that must be exhausted before industrial action is possible. Even then unions need permission from the Ministry of Interior before declaring a strike. When a strike begins, there is no legal protection for strikers against retribution by state or employers. These conditions and lack of protection make it virtually impossible for authorised strikes to take place.

Notwithstanding this, unauthorised strikes and protests take place in Kuwait. In March 2010, some 300 Egyptian employees of a cleaning and contracting company staged a protest against the non-payment of 8 months’ wages. The workers had entered extreme financial distress as they could not afford meals and faced eviction for nonpayment of rent, despite the company’s responsibility to take care of accommodation. The employers threatened the workers with dismissals and deportation. As a response, the government barred two cleaning companies from public procurement tenders for only three months, a measure which is not dissuasive of such behaviour.

The authorities have exercised their powers to stop strikes. In March 2010, the Kuwaiti Council of Ministers took legal action to prevent a strike of the Ports Foundation Workers’ Union which represents 930 workers. The dockers demanded the update of staff benefits and career development policy which was last reviewed in the 1970s. Prior to the call for a strike, the workers had engaged in two years of dialogue and all steps required by law before the decision to call a strike had been taken. In another case, 88 bus drivers of the Public Transport Company were sacked after holding a strike protesting at a wage cut and demanding the payment of an allowance to which 2,900 workers were entitled.

In 2010 and 2011, as in previous years, oil workers, customs officers, and aviation workers held unauthorised strikes. In most of the cases the state authorities took harsh measures against the workers and used replacement workers in an effort to undermine the strikes. In December 2011, the Justice Minister Ahmed Al Mulaifi stated that strikes are prohibited and that international conventions which guarantee workers’ rights are not applicable to him.

Union members are not always genuinely represented by their officials. In September 2010, 200 employees of the Ministry of Communications called for the dissolution of the union’s board of directors and the election of a new board. The board members were accused of denying registering new members, deferring the appointment of new members on the boar and insufficient reporting of activities to the members. In August 2010, undocumented workers from the Philippines accused their employer of unfair labour practices as well as physical and sexual abuse. The authorities claimed that they were not entitled to protection because they were undocumented migrants. All but three workers decided to return to their workplace the next day and one of the three was deported.

The government has made use of the legal restriction on the existence of new unions in sectors where a union already exists. For instance, the government continues to deny recognition to several public sector and oil sector unions because sectoral unions already exist. There is one export processing zone in Kuwait; the Kuwait Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) at Shuwaikh Port. There are no special laws or exemptions from regular labour laws in that zone.


There are legal restrictions on organising; special limitations on foreign workers bar a large part of the workforce from organising at all. Unions’ bargaining power is further reduced by the anti-union stance of the government and many limitations to the right to strike.

Kuwait Trade Union Federation

The Kuwait Trade Union Federation is the only national trade union body in the State of Kuwait. Founded in 1968 and affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation. [5]

The 15 trade unions under the umbrella of the General Federation of Kuwait Workers, according to the emergency general conference held on May 1, 2019, were as follows:

1 - Ministry of Health Workers' Union.

2- The Kuwait Municipality Workers' Union.

3- The Trade Union of Workers of the Ministry of Education.

4 - The Union of Workers of the Ministry of Public Works.

5- The General Administration of the Customs Workers Union.

6- The Union of Workers of the Ministry of Electricity and Water.

7- The Union of Workers of the Ministry of Information.

8- The Union of Workers of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.

9 - The Union of Workers of the Ministry of Transport.

10- Kuwait Oil Company Employees Union.

11 - The Kuwait National Oil Company Workers' Union.

12 - The Petrochemical Industries Company Workers' Union.

13 - The EQUATE Petrochemicals Workers' Union.

14 - Kuwait Oil Tanker Company Workers' Union.

15 - The Kuwait Gulf Oil Company Workers Union.

Trade Unions and Dispute Resolutions

Trade Unions formation and activities are strictly controlled. Only one union is allowed to be established for workers in any profession. An employee is not allowed to join in more than one union. For immigrants, a valid work permit and Kuwait work experience of more than five years is a requisite to become a union member.

In case of disputes between employer and some of his employees relating to work, direct negotiations should be first tried out, and an agreement should be in place. It should then be registered with MSAL within seven days. If there is no such deal, MSAL will be requested to intervene by both parties. If the dispute is not settled within 15 days by MSAL, the dispute is then forwarded to Labour Disputes Arbitration Committee in the courts. Each party is permitted to have maximum of three representatives, and any decision made by committee in this regard, is final and binding.

Faculty Senate Charter and Bylaws

2. Organization

2.1 The Faculty Senate shall have a President and Secretary and other such officers as determined by need. They will collect the notes at the commencement of the Fall semester each year.

3. Operations

3.1 The Faculty Senate shall adopt its own bylaws.

3.2 The Bylaws of the Faculty Senate shall provide for regular stated meetings of the Faculty Senate.

3.3 Special meetings of the Faculty Senate may be called by the Faculty Senate President in accordance to procedure to be stabled in the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate.

3.4 Records of the minutes of the Faculty Senate shall be kept and transmitted electronically to the faculty.

3.5 The Faculty Senate shall be provided by Gulf University for Science & Technology with necessary secretarial assistance and other related services and resources.

4. Ratification and Amendment of the Charter

4.1 The Charter shall be amended by a quorum consisting of 25% (1/4) of the members of the Faculty Senate. Note: The quorum will consist of 25% because of the small size of the Senate. Further consideration can be given to the Bylaws as the University grows.

Bylaws of the Faculty Senate of Gulf University for Science & Technology


1. The voting members of the Senate shall consist of the President; elected voting representatives of the full-time regular faculty.

a. For the purposes of Senate membership, the term “eligible faculty” includes all those with full-time regular appointments.

b. Members of the eligible faculty so defined will have the right to vote on Senate membership, to be nominated for Faculty Senate membership, and to serve in the Senate and on Senate committees.

c. The President of the Faculty Senate and Secretary shall serve a one year term (one year as a Senator and one year as President/Secretary, unless re-elected by seated Senators for a second term). Elected faculty members of the Faculty Senate shall serve a two-year term. The term of office for all Senators shall begin in September.

2. The Senate rosters shall be posted on the web.


1. The elected officers of the Senate shall be the Senate President, who must be a voting faculty Senator, and the Secretary of the Senate, who must be a voting faculty Senator.

The elected President shall serve for one year though s/he serves two years (one year as a Senator and one year as President, unless re-elected by seated Senators for a second term), and the officers of the Senate shall serve for two years, beginning in September.

The elected officers may be re-elected.

2. The Senate President, or in the President’s absence, a voting member of the Senate designated by the President, shall be the presiding officer at each meeting of the Senate.

3. The Senate Secretary shall also maintain the official roster of the Senate, and shall collect annual reports on committee activities, which shall be submitted in written form by the committee chairperson.


1. The Senate shall meet regularly each month during the academic year or in special meetings as called by the Senate President. The Senate President shall call a special meeting of the Senate on request of the President or of any five members of the Senate.

Proceedings in Senate meetings shall be in accordance with the rules set forth in the most recent edition of Robert’s Rules of Order. A quorum shall consist of a majority of the elected faculty Senators. All Senate members are strongly encouraged to attend scheduled meetings.

3. The Secretary of the Senate shall submit the agenda to all members of the Senate at least three working days in advance of each meeting, shall keep minutes of each meeting of the Senate, and shall distribute a copy of the minutes of each meeting to all faculty.

4. Agendas and minutes of the Senate meetings shall be posted on the web no later than a week after their meeting. Minutes of the Senate meetings should include motions as presented, with a summary of the main points of the discussion.

5. The Vice President for Academic Affairs, or his designated representative, shall present at each meeting of the Senate. The presentation shall include information on what is happening with the University, students, answer questions, as well as to inform the Senate on actions taken as a result of Faculty Senate proposals and resolutions.

6. Committee reports should:

a. be filed with Senate Secretary in advance of or at the meeting where actions are presented;

b. includes the names of committee members;

c. present motions as a part of the report.

ELECTIONS: Faculty Senate:

1. Each department of the College of Arts and Sciences & College of Business Administration will elect representatives by mail ballot distributed and tallied by the Faculty Senate. The Foundation Preparation Unit shall elect three representatives by mail ballot distributed and tallied by the Faculty Senate.

2. Each College’s eligible faculty will vote for its College representatives.

3. Elections will occur every year in each academic department in the month of March but at no specific date, leaving flexibility for each department’s demands.

4. A subcommittee of the Senate shall be established to supervise the election of faculty members to the Senate and distribute and tally the ballots. The subcommittee shall consist of the Senate President, the Senate Secretary, who shall maintain a complete record of the votes received by all candidates and one Senator.

5. If a departmental representative should resign from the University or from the Senate, the department will elect a replacement by mail ballot. If a Senator should take a leave of absence for half or full academic year, an alternate shall be selected in the same manner to serve only during the duration of the leave of absence.

6. When the Senate President’s completion of term comes to an end, the Senate President will serve as ex-officio (non-voting) Senator for one year.

7. Only voting members of the Senate may vote at their respective meetings. Proxy voting is prohibited.

8. Nominations for Senate shall be submitted to the Senate Secretary no later than one week prior to the March meeting of the Faculty Senate to allow dissemination of names of nominees to the voting members of the Senate.


1. The Bylaws may be amended by the vote of 25% of the quorum of those voting members present at any meeting of the Senate, provided the substance of the proposed amendment has been circulated in print by electronic means in time to be received by all members at least one week prior to the meeting at which action is proposed.

2. All senators unanimously voted against adjunct faculty being given voting power within GUST faculty assembly (April 25, 2012).

Faculty senate at GUST as the voice of all faculty at GUST, regardless of gender and nationality. The Faculty Senate shall consider, articulate, and present recommendations from the faculty to administration. The Faculty Senate shall make recommendations that emphasize improving teaching and learning conditions at GUST, especially as they affect faculty and other matters of university-wide importance. The Faculty Senate can also make recommendations on issues that affect the general welfare of the faculty.

Employment Policy

1. Policy

The Gulf University of Science & Technology (GUST) conducts its employment process to the upmost level of professionalism and ensures to follow the following rules:

· Manpower Planning

During the yearly budget exercise, all unit heads must prepare a manpower plan which highlights the estimated needs of new workforce requirements for the next year; this manpower must be approved by the appropriate body and then submitted to the Human Resources Department.

· Recruitment

I. The concerned Department Head/Dean is responsible for filling out an Employment Requisition Form approved by the appropriate Vice President.

II. All cost incurred during the recruitment process will be charged to the requesting department. III. All positions will be posted on GUST website.

IV. Current GUST Employees, who are interested to transfer to another department, should apply for the posting.

· Employment Conditions

For all the candidates considered to be hired at GUST, the following conditions must be met:

I. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and not been convicted of any serious crime or offences and should be of good conduct and behavior.

II. Preference in employment will be given to Kuwaiti candidates when possible.

III. Previous employees of GUST who were terminated due to poor performance or a violation of work rules and regulations will not be rehired at GUST.

IV. Candidates must possess the necessary qualifications, skills and experience required by the Job.

V. An equivalency by the Ministry of Higher Education in Kuwait is essential for candidates of academic positions.

VI. An authenticated degree by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kuwait is required for candidates of administrative positions.

VII. Candidates for all academic positions must be approved by the academic advisor.

· Re-hiring

I. A former employee may be re-hired provided that he/she has a satisfactory record and a vacancy is available inside GUST. It is at the discretion of the GUST Senior Management to approve or disapprove such re-engagement.

II. Previous employees of GUST who were terminated due to poor performance or a violation of work rules and regulations will not be rehired at GUST.

· Employment of Relatives

I. Recruitment of immediate relatives of existing employees is not encouraged at GUST, it is recognized that this may occur on occasion where it is in the best interest of GUST.

II. In no circumstances shall an employee report indirectly or directly to a relative.

III. New hires are required to identify and disclose any immediate relationship to an existing employee or any potential conflict of interest during the recruitment process and before any offer is extended.

IV. An employee’s relative is his/her first and second degree relative, in addition to his/her niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, cousins, step-related members and/or in-laws.

· Reference Check

I. A reference check will be conducted for any applicant considered for a position at GUST, this will be carried out by the Human Resources Department; the reference check will take place after the final interview prior to the offer.

II. If the result of the reference check was not satisfactory, the applicant will be removed from consideration for the position.

III. GUST has the right to maintain the result of the reference check confidential and not to share it with the applicant or/and the hiring department.

IV. Any external request for a reference check about GUST ex-employee will be provided by the Human Resources Department only.

· Probation Period

I. All new employees will be subject to 100 days’ probation period from their first working day at the University at the end of which, employment will be confirmed if the employee’s performance is satisfactory.

II. The Direct Supervisor will prepare a probation period report for the new employee at least two weeks prior to the end of the 100 days’ probation period. The report should be discussed with the concerned employee.

III. Employees may be terminated by GUST at any time during the probation period.

2. Application:

This policy shall apply to all new recruits of GUST.

Human Resources

Human Resources Department is the organizational function that deals with issues related to Employees and faculty Members, such as, Hiring, Organization Development, Safety, Wellness, Beneifits, Employee Motivation, Communication, Administration and Trainings. At Gust the Human Resources Department strives to improve the organizational system by increasing inspiration to our Employees and Faculty members to create a better working environment and create a better reputation for GUST.