Hundreds of construction workers protest over unpaid wages in Saudi Arabia
Hundreds of angry laborers in Saudi Arabia, not paid for months, have staged a protest in Eastern Province.
The oil-rich kingdom employs millions of foreign workers in various sectors. But facing a cash crunch, fueled by the steep fall in oil prices as well as the costly military offensive against Yemen, it has been unable to pay a large number of foreign staff for months.
The protesters blocked the road linking Dammam, which is the largest city and capital of Eastern Province, to Abqaiq community on Tuesday, arguing that they were owed more than six months worth of unpaid wages, Arabic-language Akhbaar 24 news website reported.
Security forces were later deployed to the protest site, and dispersed the crowd. No reports of casualties or arrests were available.
The protesters are reportedly employees of a subsidiary of Alsaad, a Jeddah-based general contracting company.
On Monday, Saudi authorities announced a series of cutbacks in the public bonuses and the salaries of ministers.
Saudi Arabia, once known for its lavish public spending, has been badly hit by the plunge in oil prices. Petrodollars account for the bulk of the kingdom’s income.
Additionally, the Riyadh regime has spent billions of dollars to purchase various types of munitions from Western allies, which is used to strike neighboring Yemen.
The large population of expatriate workers has been affected by the Saudi budget deficit, with frequent reports that many have not been paid in months. Major companies have started discharging their foreign workers.
The Embassy of Pakistan in Riyadh said Monday that hundreds of its nationals, who have been waiting for months to receive their salaries from a Saudi construction firm, would fly home without any payment.
Back in April, 50,000 foreign laborers were sacked by Binladin Group, and told to leave the kingdom without being paid for several months’ work.
The mass sacking constituted a 25 percent reduction in the private company’s 200,000 workforce, according to its LinkedIn page.
Angry former employees, in return, set fire to seven buses in Mecca, without causing any fatalities.