New system to tackle workers’ complaints in Saudi Arabia
Move was prompted by protests from unpaid construction industry employees
A new system has been launched by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor to handle complaints from expatriate workers.
In recent months, there has been widespread discontent among employees in the country’s construction industry, as large organisations including Saudi Oger and Saudi Binladin have been accused of failing to pay their workers on time.
The Ministry of Labor will provide workers who wish to register a complaint with legal representation to present their case in court.
“The ministry will defend the rights of expatriates and labourers and will not allow private establishments to get away with shirking their responsibilities,” labour minister Mufrej Al-Haqbani told the Saudi Gazette. “The ministry will also provide lawyers to follow up with cases such as delays in salaries. Expatriates are not obliged to pay any money for the lawyer.”
Al Haqbani also said that the government would pay for expatriates without jobs to return home and would help with the transfer of workers between private organisations.
Buses were set on fire in May by employees of Saudi Binladin Group, protesting over unpaid wages and the dismissal of 50,000 staff. Protests of this type are rare in the kingdom, but in this case the alleged mistreatment prompted an outcry among disgruntled construction workers.
Saudi Binladin has been paying outstanding wages to its employees and has promised to clear the backlog by October. Saudi Oger, which encountered similar problems, partially caused by the slump in oil price, is still having problems paying its workers, according to local reports.
Some laid-off workers have been stranded in the country without pay, either refusing or unable to leave until they receive what they are owed. Some are in camps, and the government has announced an SAR100m fund to assist them.