29 September 2016

DAMMAM — Nearly 800 workers of a big business group here came out on the streets and blocked the traffic in protest against unprecedented delay in the disbursement of their salaries.

The police had to rush to the scene to disperse the crowd and ease traffic jam on Dammam-Abqaiq Road Tuesday morning.

More than 13 police vehicles cordoned off the area to control the protest.

The business group owns a reputed hospital in Al-Khobar, a contracting company, a luxury housing compound, and an international school.

Most of the protesting workers, who belonged to the group’s contracting company, alleged that they had not been paid their salaries for the past 10 months.

A majority of protesting workers were of Asian origin, mainly Indians and Bangladeshis.

A volunteer, who coordinates with Indian Embassy, said that the problem had been going on for the past two years.

“Many workers had left the Kingdom without settling their final dues. Some in higher grades in the corporate office were allowed by the management to leave with all the benefits, while a large number of workers, mainly unskilled laborers and technicians, continue to suffer for several months,” he said.

Mohammed Shahid, an Indian worker who is employed at the contracting company and was part of protesting employees, said, “Our hunger, sickness and sufferings brought us on the streets. We have been pleading with the management for our salaries but to no avail,” he said.

A Bangladeshi, who works as a janitor at the hospital, said that he and his several dozen colleagues have been suffering for more than six months.

“We have been virtually starving. The kitchen at the camp has no supplies,” he said, adding that many of his colleagues were working without valid iqamas (residence permits) as the company has not renewed them after their expiry.

© The Saudi Gazette 2016