Saudi Arabia: Foreign Workers Burn Buses After Massive Layoffs

TeleSur | – –

The workers set at least seven buses on fire to protest Binladen construction group firing of at least 70,000 laborers after six months of no pay.

Foreign workers at one of Saudi Arabia’s largest construction companies, Binladin group, set fire to at least seven buses in protest of being fired from their work after not being paid for more than six months, local media reported Sunday.

The incident took place in front of the Binladen’s offices in the city of Mecca, according to a report by the local Okaz newspaper.

The report said the workers were protesting at the offices and then set seven companies transport buses on fire. The fire was contained and no injuries were reported. The incident was captured in a video available on YouTube.

The news came after the Binladen group laid off more than 70,000 workers, cancelled their work visas and told them they need to leave the country immediately. Media reports also said that the company plans to fire Saudi citizens in supervisory, administrative, engineering and management jobs.

The laid off workers have said they had not received any salaries for over six months. The company has been feeling the impact of the country’s economic crisis in the country amid low oil prices. In March, unpaid workers also protested in front of the company’s offices in the capital Riyadh.

Foreign workers make up to 30 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population, according to government estimates. More than 2.5 million of those foreign workers are from India and Pakistan, who tend occupy low paying jobs in construction and cleaning services.

Most of those workers have limited rights and the employer have full control over hiring, salaries, vacations and contracts. Those workers could never gain the right for permanent residency or citizenship even after working in the country for decades. Also, employers tend to keep the workers passports in order to have full control over their visas and travels.

via TeleSur


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2 Responses

  1. It should be made very clear that the lay-offs have been due to the Saudi government’s non-payment of their contract with the Binladin Group. BG’s lay-offs represent just the largest example of what is happening all throughout the country. Riyadh is impossible to pass because of congested traffic from construction sites that have been long-abandoned, due to the same reasoning. Friends of mine are affected: their companies have been forced to shut down in the wake of non-payment of long ago signed contracts, forcing them to let go of the staff, and pack up and evict their office buildings. Almost everything built in Saudi is ultimately paid for by the government, who then uses their preferred contractors/companies to implement the projects, and I’ve not spoken to one owner/manager who has been paid within the past 5-6 months. This example is the most visible therefore, but don’t overlook the knock-on effect, and the thousands of smaller companies that are genuinely suffering.

  2. Something I don’t understand is how any worker is able to survive for 6 months without pay. Is the company housing and feeding them while they are laid off? I guess it must be otherwise by necessity they would have to find other work or leave.

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