Saudi Binladin Group cuts thousands of jobs, prompting protests and government response

English and Arabic media reports have been following the Saudi Binladin Group's (SBG) financial difficulties, caused by cuts in government spending due to falling oil prices and the Group's suspension from new state contracts after a crane accident killed 107 people in Mecca last September. SBG announced that it would be cutting between 50,000 and 77,000 jobs, including those of Saudi nationals. Nine company buses were set on fire as anger over sackings and delayed and unpaid wages prompted worker protests.

The government has responded by saying that all workers will receive their wages this month or next, and by lifting the bidding ban on SBG to help ease the financial pressure on the company and its lenders.

We attempted to invite Saudi Binladin and Saad Trading and Constracting, a second company alleged to have left hundreds of workers stranded without pay, but both had gone into liquidation and we were unable to do so. Track the story below.

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Article
3 January 2017

Saudi Arabia jails and flogs workers for unpaid wage protests

Author: Middle East Eye

Dozens of foreign workers have been sentenced to flogging and jail for unrest during protests over unpaid wages by Saudi Binladin Group several months ago...reports...did not give the nationalities of the 49 workers...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 a court in Mecca...Construction sector workers...were left waiting for pay after a collapse in oil revenues left the kingdom unable to pay private firms it had contracted. A Saudi Binladin Group spokesman could not be reached on Tuesday.

The government said in November that it would pay its arrears to private firms by the following month. But on 22 December, Finance Minister Mohammed Aljadaan, after releasing the 2017 national budget, said money owed to the private sector would be paid "within 60 days"...[also refers to Saudi Oger].

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Article
3 October 2016

Saudi Arabia releases $1 billion to help laid-off Indian migrant workers: Report

Author: Holly Ellyatt, CNBC (US)

Saudi Arabia has released around $1 billion in money owed to its biggest construction firms in a bid to contain labor unrest in the country, according to a report in The Wall Street JournalThe Saudi Binladin Group...was reportedly paid between $800 million-$1.1 billion in September so that it "could honor unpaid wages"...to...the mostly migrant laid-off workforce ...so that they could leave the kingdom.

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Article
9 May 2016

Saudi Binladin says pays delayed salaries to 10,000 workers

Author: Reuters

Construction firm Saudi Binladin Group, which has been struggling to pay its workers because of financial pressures, has made delayed salary payments to 10,000 employees, a spokesman for the company said on Monday. 

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Article
5 May 2016

Saudi government lifts project bidding ban on Binladin group

Author: Andrew Torchia, Reuters

Saudi Arabia has allowed major builder Saudi Binladin Group to resume bidding for state projects...in a decision that may ease financial pressure on the troubled firm and banks which lend to the group. There are strong reasons for the government to ease the financial pressure on Binladin; it is involved in projects considered strategic for the economy, such as the Jeddah airport, and few other local firms have its capacity. Also, Binladin's financial problems could weaken the wider economy. Some of its suppliers have been hurt, and al-Watan reported on Monday that the company was expected to lay off 12,000 of 17,000 Saudis...that could be politically difficult for the government as it seeks to prevent an economic slowdown due to low oil prices from boosting unemployment. 

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Article
5 May 2016

Saudi mega-builder Binladin ‘should declare bankruptcy’

Author: Staff writer, Al Arabiya English

Saudi’s stricken mega-builder Binladin, which has been behind many of the kingdom’s largest projects but is now struggling to pay tens of thousands of workers, should declare bankruptcy among other options, a report stated. The report, from the Dubai-based CNBC Arabic channel, suggested that the Saudi Binladin conglomerate had three other options to stave off collapse. The options suggested were for the Saudi government to acquire a 60 percent stake in the firm. Another option was for it to sell off its existing real estate projects and dispense with contracts that the company has already won.

Earlier this week, pictures showed at least 10 Binladin buses that had been burned and vandalized, reportedly by disgruntled employees. At least seven protesters were arrested following the arson attack. 

Despite its main competitor weakening, Saudi Oger, another of the kingdom’s construction giants hit by the slowdown, is reportedly struggling too. In March, the kingdom’s labor ministry reportedly took steps to punish Saudi Oger for delayed salaries. Saudi’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg in an April interview that the firm has debt “in and out of Saudi. Saudi Oger can’t cover their own labor costs. That’s not our problem, that’s Saudi Oger’s.”

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Author: BBC Arabic

الشركة تلقت مرسوما ملكيا يسمح لها بالعودة للعمل في المشاريع الحكومية ويرفع الحظر عن سفر كبار مديريها. وكان وزير العمل السعودي، مفرج الحقباني قد قال الثلاثاء إنه سيجري حل أزمة شركة الإنشاءات السعودية مجموعة بن لادن التي تواجه صعوبات في دفع أجور عامليها. وأضاف الحقباني للصحفيين على هامش مؤتمر يورو-موني في الرياض أن بعض العاملين في بن لادن سيحصلون على رواتبهم هذا الشهر والبعض لاحقا، دون أن يذكر كيف ستدبر المجموعة الأموال لدفع الأجور.وذكرت تقارير أن هناك أسبابا قوية تدفع الحكومة لتخفيف الضغط المالي عن مجموعة بن لادن، من بينها أنها تشارك في مشروعات استراتيجية للاقتصاد مثل مطار جدة، كما أن الشركات التي بحجم مجموعة بن لادن قليلة، بالإضافة إلى أن مشاكلها قد تضعف الاقتصاد السعودي بصفة عام

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Author: القدس العربي

 بسبب الضغوط المالية التي تتعرض لها شركات المقاولات السعودية الكبرى...منها شركة «بن لادن السعودية»...اضطرت الشركة إلى الاستغناء عن نحو عشرات الآلاف من موظفيها، وأوقفت العمل في العديد من المشاريع التي تنفذها في المملكة ...وبسبب عدم صرف وزارة المالية للمستحقات المالية لشركات المقاولات في السعودية، والتي تقدر بمئات الملايين من الريالات، توقفت معظم هذه الشركات ومنها شركتا «بن لادن السعودية» و«سعودي أوجيه» عن دفع مرتبات عمالها وموظفيها، الأمر الذي جعل المملكة تشهد إضرابات عمالية واحتجاجات في مختلف مواقع مشاريع المقاولات في المدن السعودية، وكان آخرها يوم أول أمس حين قام عمال غاضبون من شركة بن لادن بالاحتجاج عند موقع سكن عمال الشركة في جدة وأضرموا النار في سبع حافلات لنقل الركاب تابعة للشركة، وهذه أحداث كان من النادر وقوعها في السعودية...وشهد الأسبوع الماضي في مقر الشركة في جدة...احتجاجا لأكثر من ألف موظف، وقالت الصحف المحلية إن موظفين محتجين قاموا بفصل التيارالكهربائي عن الشركة بالكامل، وقامت مجموعة كبيرة من الموظفين بتكسير ممتلكات الشركة ومهاجمة موظفي الإدارة من الجنسيات الأخرى احتجاجاً على تأخير رواتبهم

 

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Article
3 May 2016

Binladin crisis will be resolved, says Saudi labour minister

Author: Reuters in Arabian Business

The crisis surrounding major Saudi Arabian construction company Saudi Binladin Group, which has been struggling to pay its workers, will be resolved, Labour Minister Mufrej al-Haqbani said on Tuesday...speaking to reporters at a business conference in Riyadh, [he] said some Binladin workers would get their salaries this month, and some later. He did not say how Binladin would obtain the money to pay its staff.

Some Saudi construction companies have complained that their financial situation has been made more difficult because the government has delayed payments to them for work already done. Asked if the government owes Binladin money, Haqbani replied: "For me, any contract between an employer and an employee is non-conditional. It is a contract between a company and an employee that the employee will work and receive his salary. No conditions."

Asked whether the government might intervene to protect the jobs of Saudis, Haqbani replied that a wage protection system safeguarded employees' salaries and that foreign workers would receive their salaries even if they left the country.

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Article
2 May 2016

Saudi Arabia: Workers set fire to buses after '50,000 sacked and wages unpaid'

Author: Elsa Vulliamy, Independent

Workers at a major Saudi construction firm have set fire to nine company buses in protest over thousands of sackings and their salaries not being paid. Employees at Binladin Group have staged several demonstrations within Saudi Arabia’s Mecca region in recent weeks, with some claiming they have not received their wages for six months. Spokesperson for Mecca’s Civil Defense Major Nayef al-Sharif said no injuries were caused by the fires, and that firefighters had put out the blaze. 

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Article
2 May 2016

Saudi builder Binladin cuts 77,000 jobs, to lay off Saudis

Author: Marwa Rashad, Reuters

Binladin has issued 77,000 final exit visas to foreign workers so that they can leave Saudi Arabia, and is expected to lay off 12,000 of 17,000 Saudis in supervisory, administrative, engineering and management jobs...While Saudi construction companies regularly cut or expand their foreign staff in response to changing demand in the industry, they rarely lay off large numbers of Saudis, partly because it is legally difficult and expensive. 

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