Saudi King asks authorities to resolve foreign workers’ issues

Saudi Arabia's King Salman has ordered authorities to address "once and for all" the grievances of distressed foreign workers, especially Indians and the Filipinos, stranded in the Kingdom after not being paid for months.

The King, in a series of directives yesterday, ordered the Minister of Labour and Social Development to take necessary measures, in coordination with the Ministry of Finance, to oblige companies who have contracts with the government to pay the salaries of their employees in accordance with the government's Wage Protection Programme that ensures workers' salaries are fully paid.

According to Saudi Press Agency, the directive is for the government not to release what it owes those companies unless the Labour Ministry confirms that the companies have paid on time what they owe their employees.

The King['s directives comes amid increasing complaints by workers that they have not been paid their salaries for months.

Construction giant Saudi Oger has been the subject of complaints by thousands of its workers for not paying their salaries for the past nine months.

In one of his directives on Sunday, King Salman authorised the Labour Minister to also immediately address the housing and accommodation services of the distressed workers by contracting with companies that provide such services.

India and the Philippines as well as their communities in the kingdom have rallied behind their compatriots at Saudi Oger by providing them food.

Indian minister of state for external affairs VK Singh also visited Saudi Arabia to resolve the issue.

Currently, a total of 7,700 affected Indian workers are living in 20 camps and the embassy is in the process of collecting information about others residing in different parts of Saudi Arabia.

The King also commissioned the labour minister to coordinate with the Saudi Arabian airlines to transport foreign workers who wish to return to their countries and to charge the cost to their employers.

The Labour Minister is also authorised to contract with legal consultancy agencies to pursue the financial claims of the workers in local courts.

In the case of workers in distress who wish to leave the Kingdom, the King directed the Passport Department to facilitate issuance of final exit visas in coordination with the Foreign Ministry and relevant agencies.

An amount of SR100 million is to be deposited in the Saudi Arab Fund account for use to fulfil the King's orders.

"King Salman also directed Labour Minister to coordinate with the minister of culture and information to highlight the kingdom's efforts aimed at ending the suffering of the distressed workers especially the Indian and the Filipino workers and to ensure that this case was a mere individual mishap by one company and the number of affected workers is insignificant compared with the millions of other expiates who are working in the private sectors in KSA," SPA said.

Source: Business Standard

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