Hundreds of Saudi Oger workers fly home with unpaid dues

The Pakistanis are among thousands of workers owed back pay by the troubled construction firm



Hundreds of Pakistani workers flew home from Saudi Arabia this week without the salaries they had waited months to receive, according to reports.

AFP cited embassy officials as saying 405 Pakistanis owed salaries by troubled Saudi Oger flew home on Wednesday on flights provided by the Saudi government.

Abdul Shakoor Shaikh, the Pakistani Embassy’s community welfare attache, said the 405 were among more than 6,500 Pakistanis who had not been paid by the construction firm for eight or nine months.

Large groups of Filipinos and Indians are also awaiting back pay from the construction firm owned by Lebanon’s billionaire Hariri family.

Read: Cash crunch at Saudi Oger casts shadow over Lebanon’s Hariris

A total of 30,000 Saudi Oger workers are believed to be affected.

In August, the firm was said to owe $800m of unpaid allowances and end of service benefits, as well as dues to financial subcontractors and banks.

Read: Saudi Oger owes $800m to workers, banks – reports

Shaikh told AFP that 275 Pakistanis had already flown home under the Saudi government programme introduced last month by King Salman.

The SAR100m ($27m) fund is designed to provide workers with food, medical support, flights home and exit visas or transfers to another employer. The fund is also helping workers to file court claims against Oger.

Read: Saudi’s King Salman issues new directives on unpaid salaries for foreign workers

Since it was announced some 2,000 Pakistanis have received exit visas and 70 have transferred to other companies.

Mission officials said the embassy was authorised to receive the workers’ back wages and forward it on to those who return home.

“But the problem persists. We cannot say that Saudi Oger has started paying the salaries,” Shaikh was quoted as saying.

However, he said he was confident that the Saudi judicial system would see the workers receive their dues.

Earlier this week, more than 1,3000 Saudi Oger contractors were made redundant at a Quran printing complex, according to reports.

Read: 1,300 Saudi Oger workers cut at Quran printing complex

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