Saudi Binladin says dismissed 77,000 expatriate workers received 'full compensation'

The Saudi Binladin Group said dismissed workers received “full compensation,” responding to local media reports that it fired thousands without pay. It described the job cuts as a routine measure amid a slowdown in the construction industry.

“Adjusting the size of our manpower is a normal routine, especially whenever projects are completed or near completion,” the largest construction company in Saudi Arabia said in an emailed response to questions on Monday. “Most of the released jobs had initially been recruited for contracted projects with specific time frame and deliverables.”

The Saudi government started delaying payments to contractors last year to prevent the budget deficit from exceeding US$100 billion after the slump in oil prices. Deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said in an interview in March that authorities have started paying companies back.

The Binladin Group has terminated the jobs of 77,000 expatriate workers and issued final exit visas for them to leave the country, Al-Watan newspaper reported on Monday, citing a company official it didn’t identify. It also plans to fire 12,000 of its 17,000 Saudi employees, the newspaper said.

Workers torched Binladin buses in Mecca and are refusing to leave the country without their overdue salaries, Arab News reported, citing civil defense spokesman Major Nayef Al Sharif.

The company, which did not disclose the number and nationalities of affected workers, said it will honor its commitments “in case further manpower is released.”

Saudi Arabia’s economic growth is slowing as revenue from oil exports decline. Gross domestic product will likely expand 1.5 per cent this year, the slowest pace since the global financial crisis, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.

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