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Saudi Arabia: Company's Workers Unpaid, Trapped

Author: Human Rights Watch , Published on: 28 May 2010

Saudi Arabia's labor office should immediately investigate labor violations at Jadawel International's Dhahran and Riyadh compounds [owned by MBI Al Jaber], whose workers say they have not been paid for months, Human Rights Watch said today. The residency permits for many foreign workers...have expired, trapping them at the compound...Under Saudi Arabia's sponsorship, or kafala, system, migrant workers are tied to a Saudi...company or an individual, who must consent to transfer of sponsorship and to the granting of an exit visa in order to leave the country...[One worker] said that the management summoned [full time workers who had stopped working after having not been paid]...one by one and threatened them with jail and deportation, and to withhold food, if they failed to return to work...Forbes magazine in 2010 listed Sheikh Mohammed bin Issa Al Jaber as the 93rd richest person in the world. Al Jaber is also the UNESCO Special Envoy for Education, Tolerance, and Cultures in the Middle East...UNESCO did not respond to a Human Rights Watch inquiry on May 20 about its relation with Al Jaber...James Braun, a Canadian, sued his Saudi employer for wrongful termination in December 2008, and received a judgment in his favor in April 2009. The company appealed, however, and hearings have been scheduled since November 2009 every three months, with no discernible progress in the case.

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