Saudi Binladin lays off 77,000

Buses belonging to the Saudi Binladin Group were reportedly torched by workers in a protest over unpaid wages in Mecca at the weekend.
Buses belonging to the Saudi Binladin Group were reportedly torched by workers in a protest over unpaid wages in Mecca at the weekend.PHOTO: REUTERS

RIYADH • One of Saudi Arabia's most powerful companies, the Saudi Binladin Group, founded by the father of terrorist Osama Bin Laden, has reportedly laid off 77,000 foreign workers.

The report yesterday is the latest over the past few days alleging tens of thousands of lay-offs, unpaid salaries and unrest by employees of the company which built some of the Gulf country's landmarks.

Sources said in March that delayed receipts from the Saudi government, whose oil revenues have collapsed over the past two years, have left employees of the kingdom's construction giants struggling to survive.

And after decades of thriving on lucrative government contracts, Saudi Binladin Group was sanctioned by the government after a deadly crane accident at one of its projects, a major expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, in September last year.

A company official cited by Al-Watan daily said that as of Sunday, 77,000 Binladin Group workers had received exit visas to leave the country. He said that they were among 200,000 expatriates employed by the company, one of the largest builders in the world.

In addition, 12,000 of the 17,000 Saudis working for the firm as engineers, administrators and inspectors were also expected to be let go.

On Friday, Al-Watan reported that 50,000 of the group's staff were refusing to leave the country while their salaries remained unpaid after more than four months.

An Arab News report yesterday blamed "unpaid workers" for torching several Binladin Group buses in Mecca over the weekend.

Bin Laden was one of the company founder's more than 50 children. He was removed as a shareholder in 1993 and disowned by the family.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2016, with the headline 'Saudi Binladin lays off 77,000'. Print Edition | Subscribe