Fresh trouble over lay-offs
Saudi firm facing worker backlash
Employees at the Saudi Binladin Group, a construction giant, set fire to more than seven company buses in the latest protest by disgruntled staff over not being paid salaries for months and a large round of reported lay-offs.
Major Nayef Al Sharif, the spokesman for the Civil Defence in the city of Mecca, said late on Saturday that firefighters put out the blaze without any injuries reported.
The Binladin Group has not issued any statements about the reported lay-offs or the unrest. Calls and an email request for comment to the company were not immediately returned.
For several weeks, thousands of the firm’s employees have been staging rare protests in Mecca and the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah, with some saying they have not been paid for six months.
The attack on the company’s buses comes a day after the Saudi Al Watan newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying the company has terminated employment for 50,000 foreign workers and issued them with exit visas. Many of those workers are apparently refusing to leave without being paid their late wages, the newspaper reported.
The Saudi Binladin Group is one of the world’s largest construction firms. Founded in 1931, the firm has been behind some of Saudi Arabia’s most important projects.