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Gästarbetare vägrar arbeta utan lön

Expat Workers Complain of Nonpayment of Wages
K.S. RamkumarArab News
 
JEDDAH, 28 August 2006 — About 140 Bangladeshi and Indian cleaners in Hail are reported to have gone on strike for a second time in the past two months demanding payment of their unpaid wages over the past year.

The workers belong to a company which has a contract with the region’s General Directorate of Health Affairs. They are involved in the maintenance and cleaning of various hospitals and health care centers in the region.

“We’re sitting in our dormitory, refusing to go to our work place and demanding the intervention of local authorities to solve the problem for good,” said a Bangladeshi worker, who identified himself as Muhammad and who is representing the striking workers.

The workers also demand the regularization of their presence in the Kingdom by renewing their iqamas which expired a few months ago.

Following their strike two months ago, the Labor Office in Hail promised to look into the issue and solve their problem.

“The Labor Office summoned the contracting company officials and asked them to settle the problem,” Muhammad said, adding that the company had promised to pay the arrears immediately.

“It is strange that the company has neither paid as promised nor provided vacations as required by law. It has also not renewed our iqamas as agreed,” he said.

Though the officials of the contracting company do not deny the charges, they say they are helpless since their client companies have not paid them some SR4 million, Al-Watan reported this past week.

“We’re doing our best to sort out the matter,” a Bangladeshi official said.

Indian Consul General Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said that the consulate’s labor wing had been able to solve such problems in the recent past to the satisfaction of both employers and employees. Some of the cases solved recently were individual ones.

“One of the measures we are taking is to include a representative of our welfare section in the team headed by the labor consul that we send to different regions periodically to address labor issues,” Dr. Sayeed said. “In fact, I’ll lead the team myself to places and regions where there is a large number of Indian workers,” he added.

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