Construction company Saudi Binladin Group has started repaying pending salaries to its workers, the kingdom’s Labour and Social Development minister Mufrej Al Haqabani has said.
The minister also stated that the company – which has been struggling financially – will completely clear all its dues owed to its workers by the end of September, local daily Arab News reported.
Al Haqabani said that only Saudi Oger – one of the worst hit by the oil slump in the kingdom – is continuing to withhold payments to workers. He stressed that the ministry will pursue the issue through the wage protection system.
Several workers – especially those working in construction companies – have been stranded without pay in the kingdom during recent months. Some have also been struggling to get food, as per officials.
Their situation has prompted their home countries to send senior representatives to Saudi to help resolve the issue. Officials from India, Pakistan and the Philippines have already met with authorities in the kingdom.
According to Indian officials, over 6,200 workers from the country – formerly employed by Oger – were stranded in camps after being laid off.
In response, Saudi’s King Salman set aside SAR100m of government money to help the stranded workers and also laid out new rules requiring companies to pay up their dues.
While workers have also been offered the option to return home for free, many say they don’t want to return without their dues.
Abdullah Al-Olayan, director general of the Ministry of Labour and Social Development branch in Makkah, who recently met Pakistani officials, said he discussed the unpaid salary issue with Saudi Oger officials.
He said the company has agreed to return the passports of Pakistani workers and sort out their unpaid salaries.
Pakistani workers can stay in the kingdom by changing jobs or leave the country with the Labour Ministry paying for all travel expenses, to be deducted later from their overdue salaries, he added.