12,000 Saudi citizens fired by struggling Binladin Group
More than two-thirds of Saudi citizens working for one of the kingdom’s largest employers have been sacked, amid an ongoing economic crisis sparked by low oil prices.
Saudi daily Al Watan reported on Monday that 12,000 of 17,000 Saudi employees had been fired at the Binladin Group construction firm.
The Saudis had been employed as engineers, administrators and inspectors, according to Watan.
The newspaper cited an unnamed company official who said that in addition to the Saudi sackings, 77,000 out of 200,000 foreign workers had been fired and given permanent exit visas to leave the kingdom.
However, Watan reported on Friday that at least 50,000 of the expatriate workers were refusing to leave Saudi Arabia because they have not been paid for at least four months.
The unpaid workers have been holding daily protests at the company’s offices, and on Saturday footage uploaded to YouTube showed at least seven buses set on fire by protesters at Binladin offices in Mecca province.
Local authorities are now investigating the fires, which were extinguished without causing any fatalities.
Another protest on Friday saw five laid off Binladin workers reportedly injured when a company official ran them over with a car, local papers reported.
A spokesman for Binladin told Bloomberg on Monday that all those laid off had been paid “full compensation” and dismissed reports of angry workers.
“Adjusting the size of our manpower is a normal routine, especially whenever projects are completed or near completion,” the spokesman said.
“Most of the released jobs had initially been recruited for contracted projects with specific time frame and deliverables.”