Sunday, January 22, 2017

300 Lashes and 4 Months Jail for creating unrest over unpaid wages issue

Expatriate workers in Saudi Arabia are around 10 million. They started traveling to the country soon after the oil was discovered in the late 1930s. The foreign specialists are designated into the fields belonging to the nation of origin; expatriates from Arab and Western countries usually hold the higher positions, and the labors from Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia are involved in lower positions.  The matter of expats in Saudi Arabia is the one which affects all the corners of the globe. Since 30% of the Saudi Arabia residents are workers from other countries, modification done in Saudi work laws influence not only the laborers but their relatives around the globe.

On Tuesday, a handful of expatriate laborers have been punished to lashing and prison for creating unrest in the Kingdom. It was because of their objection or protest over unpaid compensation by Saudi Binladin Group in Riyadh a few months ago. The incident occurred in Umme Al Katad region.  The daily newspaper and Arab News did not specify the nationalities of the 49 labors, therefore, it is unknown as to where those expats belong. The International embassy team contacted by AFP could not instantly provide points.  It was said that an unknown number of expats were punished for four months’ in prison and 300 lashes for destroying public property, fighting and creating unrest.

Others were locked up for 45 days by the Makkah court. The development sector employees, mainly at the Binladin Group and another company Saudi Oger, were left sitting for wages. It was when a breakdown in oil income took place in the Kingdom due to which they were not capable of paying the private organizations it had contracted with.  The news stated that “unpaid laborers” had burned down a few Binladin Group buses in Makkah.  

Management affirmed that seven buses were smoldered but did not provide the reason. At the residence in Umm Al Katad, the fire was blazed by the expats which were controlled by the police and firefighters. The Saudi Binladin Group was established more than 80 years ago. Binladin Group said that it has paid off compensation to 70,000 laid-off staff. The company also said that the staff still working in the company would get their wages as the government settles their debts.  Ten thousand workers of Saudi Oger, directed by Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, were also sitting for salaries.

The government said that in November that it would pay its debts to private organizations by the next month. But on 22nd December, the Finance Minister, Mohammad Al Jadaan, told reporters after announcing the 2017 budget that the government would take another 60 days to pay the debts. Abdulaziz Al-Harthy said that the company can file the lawsuit against the workers who tried to damage or destroy their property. Personally, I stand with the government to punish the culprits. It is important to mention here that the punishment is not given to them for the protest but to damage the public property. There have been so many other protests by these workers against the same employers but government never took any action against them. You don’t have a right to destroy public property in any case.

Source: Gulf News       

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