JEDDAH: Construction company Saudi Binladin Group has laid off 50,000 staff, Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reported.
The total workforce at Binladin, one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest firms and among the Middle East’s largest builders, is around 200,000, according to its LinkedIn page.
Al-Watan, citing unnamed sources, reported that the group has terminated the contracts of 50,000 workers — apparently all foreigners — and given them permanent exit visa to leave the Kingdom.
The paper said the workers refused to leave the country without getting paid and some had not received wages for more than four months.
They were protesting in front of the Binladin’s offices in the country almost daily, the paper added.
Binladin did not immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment on Friday, a day off in the Gulf region.
The company has had a series of pay disputes with workers this year.
In March, scores of workers gathered outside one of the company’s office in Saudi Arabia to demand unpaid wages.
Labor market reforms, designed to push more Saudi citizens into private sector jobs, have since 2011 made it more difficult and expensive for construction firms to hire foreign workers, pressuring the industry.
Binladin has been discussing how to manage its debts with banks and a few have agreed to refinance some debt through steps such as extending maturities, with some providing short-term financing for the company’s working capital including staff wages, banking sources had said.