Governments & companies offer assistance as Saudi Oger fails to pay wages and leaves migrant construction workers stranded

Several governments and companies have come forward to assist nationals employed by the construction firm Saudi Oger following reports of thousands of workers left stranded without pay or access to basic living supplies in Saudi Arabia.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has gathered reports detailing the events and responses by government and the private sector, plus analyses of the situation by civil society and the business sector.

Saudi_Oger_protesting_workers_Photocredit_Arab_News

 Agitated Saudi Oger employees try to disrupt traffic at a Jeddah intersection. Photo credit: Arab News

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Article
+ العربية - Hide

Author: اسلام شاهين، الرادار

قالت وزارة القوى العاملة، إن العاهل السعودي الملك سلمان بن عبدالعزيز، أصدر توجيهات بمعالجة أوضاع العمالة المتضررة من تجاوزات المنشآت التي يعملون بها، والسماح بتجديد إقاماتها واستخراج تأشيرات الخروج النهائي مجاناً وعلى حساب الدولة، على أن تتحمل الشركة لاحقاً دفع هذه المبالغ...هذه التوجيهات...جاءت على خلفية أوضاع العمالة المصرية بإحدى الشركات "سعودي أوجيه"، التي تقوم بتأخر صرف الرواتب لأكثر من ثلاثة أسابيع.

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Article
8 September 2016

Saudi Oger faces huge debt restructuring as rescue talks collapse

Author: David French, Tom Arnold and Katie Paul, Reuters (Dubai/Riyadh)

The Saudi Arabian government has ended talks aimed at saving construction giant Saudi Oger, which is now facing the prospect of a multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring to stave off collapse…[T]he government owes Oger about 30 billion riyals ($8 billion) for work it has completed.

This huge backlog of payments has left Oger struggling to meet its obligations, including 15 billion riyals of loans, billions of riyals owed to contractors and suppliers, and 2.5 billion riyals to workers in back and severance pay…[T]housands of workers from South Asia contracted by the firm, many of whom have been left in desert camps…[have] stopped receiving food, electricity, maintenance and medical services from the firm.

While a deal may still be possible, the attention of company executives and creditors is increasingly switching to how the company can save itself, with sources indicating a debt restructuring seems the only viable option...Creditors are becoming increasingly anxious...Samba Financial Group in July became the first lender to seek a court judgment against Oger to reclaim its dues...[and] could precipitate further legal claims against Oger from banks, according to industry and banking sources.

[also refers to Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers, Arab Bank, Cell C, National Commercial Bank, Nesma, Oger Telecom, Saad Group, Saudi Binladin Group, Turk Telecom] ​

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Article
7 September 2016

Delay in salary threatens workers’ Eid celebrations

Author: Ibrahim Nafee, Arab News (Saudi Arabia)

The crisis of delayed salaries of the Saudi Binladin Group…still continues despite the financial measures that were taken by the company to resolve this problem.
Around 100,000 Binladin workers are still waiting for their delayed salaries after the company promised to pay these salaries…While they gave financial commitments for Eid Al-Adha, the company’s workers were waiting for their salaries on Monday to be able to manage their personals affairs for Eid. There are 31,000 Saudi and foreign employees who have lodged complaints with the Labor Office about delayed wages.

[also refers to Saudi Oger]

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Article
19 August 2016

Abandoned in Saudi desert camps, migrant workers won't leave without pay

Author: Marwa Rashad and Katie Paul, Reuters (India)

Migrant construction workers, abandoned in their thousands by Saudi employers in filthy desert camps during the kingdom's economic slump, say they will not accept a government offer of free flights home unless they receive months of unpaid wages. The plight of the workers...has alarmed their home countries and drawn unwelcome attention to the conditions of some of the 10 million foreign workers on whom the Saudi economy depends. The government says it is trying to resolve the situation by giving the workers -- who normally need their employers' permission to leave the country -- the right to go home and free transport back. It is also granting them special permission to stay while they look for other jobs. But workers say they fear that if they leave they will end up with nothing at all.

In July, Oger stopped providing food, electricity, maintenance and medical services at several of its camps...They sleep six to eight to a tiny room...eat food rations provided by the Labour Ministry or their embassies...no regular supply of clean drinking water...buy bottled water with their own money...As the salary delays have worsened, frustrated workers have in some cases staged rare public protests...Saudi Labour Minister...told Reuters on Wednesday that several distressed local firms, including Saudi Binladin Group, had now started paying overdue wages...Oger is the only company still broadly withholding payments.

 

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Article
15 August 2016

Firms come to aid of stranded Saudi Oger workers

Author: Paromita Dey, ConstructionWeek (UAE)

50 local companies have expressed desire to hire 2,500 Indian employees of Saudi Oger...representatives of these companies are currently negotiating with Saudi Oger to finalise the transfer of these employees...several companies have approached the Saudi Ministry of Labor (MOL) offering help to the stranded Filipino workers from Saudi Oger.

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Article
12 August 2016

Saudi Arabian dreams turn to nightmares for penniless Pakistanis

Author: Rori Donaghy, Middle East Eye

Vani Saraswathi, from the campaigning organisation migrant-rights.org, told MEE [Middle East Eye] that foreign workers across the Arab Gulf States often face employment problems but that the toughest to resolve are in Saudi Arabia. “Providing food and helping with repatriation is seen as a resolution. But most of these workers would have paid heavy recruitment fees - and borrowed to do so - so going back without their dues is far from a resolution. It’s just deferring their angst from one country to another.”

All of those interviewed said they believed neither the Pakistani nor the Saudi authorities have done enough to help them.

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Article
9 August 2016

Philippines thanks Saudi Arabia for assisting workers

Author: Gilbert P. Felongco, Gulf News (UAE)

...thousands of workers lost their jobs and left stranded in Saudi Arabia over the past several months due to slump in oil prices. The Filipino expat workers’ group, Migrante-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia...said that some 20,000 Filipino workers from Saudi Oger Ltd had been affected since last year while some 5,000 have been retrenched since last year. On the part of the Philippine government, it said that it is also making efforts to make the situation less difficult for the affected workers.

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Article
9 August 2016

Saudi Oger owes employees $800m in salaries

Author: Sarmad Khan, MEED (UAE)

Saudi Oger owes SR3bn ($800m) to its employees in salaries in addition to the payments due to contractors and exporters, and money it requires to service loans obtained from local and international lenders.

French employees of the company, who have not been paid in months, have sued the company in French courts. Talks between a lawyer representing 200 employees, mainly engineers and managers...have failed...[the company] offered to clear employees’ dues of up to five months only, but the lawyer rejected the offer, the report added. Meanwhile, the French embassy in Riyadh has been giving financial aid to the French employees of the company to help them meet expenses...until the issue is resolved. France’s Foreign Minister Jean Marc Ayrault, who recently visited Lebanon, said his government was communicating with officials in Saudi Arabia and at the company to resolve the issue...[also refers to Saudi BinLadin Group].

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Article
9 August 2016

Saudi Oger unlikely to pay Bangladesh workers soon

Author: Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

Officials at the Bangladesh embassy in Riyadh yesterday said there is no immediate possibility that more than 1,500 Bangladeshi migrants, who are working for Saudi Oger...will get their arrears anytime soon. "The Saudi king has already ordered the labour ministry to resolve the problems of the workers. But the solution may take time. We are now visiting labour camps to prepare database of Bangladesh workers," [said] Sarwar Alam, labour counsellor at the embassy.

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Author: المؤسسة اللبنانية للارسال انترناسيونال (LBC)

امر الملك سلمان بن عبد العزيز بمعالجة أوضاع العمالة المتضررة من تجاوزات بعض المنشآت بما في ذلك شركة "سعودي أوجيه" العملاقة للمقاولات... شملت الإجراءات السماح بتجديد الإقامات واستخراج تأشيرات الخروج النهائي على حساب الدولة على أن تتحمل الشركة لاحقا دفع هذه المبالغ...وقامت الوازرة بالتعاقد مع مقاولين لتوفير خدمات الإعاشة والخدمات الصحية وتعاقدت مع مكاتب قانونية لمساندة العمالة في متابعة قضاياهم لدى الشركة والتأكد من إيصال حقوق العمالة التي قررت المغادرة النهائية...و تكليف الخطوط الجوية السعودية بتدبير سفر العمالة الراغبة في المغادرة مجانا إلى بلدانهم ومحاسبة الشركة لاحقا.

 

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