Workers in Saudi Arabia Get Jail, Flogging over Unpaid Wage Unrest

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Reports said Tuesday dozens of foreign workers had been sentenced to flogging and jail for unrest during protests over unpaid wages by Saudi Bin Laden Group.

Al-Watan newspaper and Arab News, which originally published the report, did not give the nationalities of the 49 workers, and foreign embassy staff could not immediately provide details, Al Ahed News reported.

Al-Watan, which had followed the Bin Laden case since early last year, said an unidentified number were sentenced to four months’ jail and 300 lashes for destroying public property and inciting unrest.

Others were jailed for 45 days by the court in Mecca.

Construction sector workers, chiefly at the Bin Laden Group and another firm Saudi Oger, were left waiting for salaries after a collapse in oil revenues left the kingdom unable to pay private firms it had contracted.

Arab News reported in May that “unpaid workers” had torched several Bin Laden Group buses in Mecca.

Authorities confirmed at the time that seven buses were burned but did not give the cause.

A Bin Laden Group spokesman could not be reached on Tuesday.

The company, which developed landmark buildings in Saudi Arabia, was founded more than 80 years ago by the father of deceased al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden Group late last year said it had completed payment to 70,000 laid-off employees.

Workers still with the company would get their back pay as the regime settled its arrears, the company said. Tens of thousands of employees of Saudi Oger were also waiting for wages.

One Oger worker told AFP in December that he had received part of the money but was still owed five months’ salary.

The regime said in November that it would pay its arrears to private firms by the following month.

But on Dec. 22, Finance Minister Mohammed Aljadaan, after releasing the 2017 national budget, told reporters that money owed to the private sector would be paid “within 60 days.”

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