KSA frees up rules for workers on stalled projects

Labour ministry will foot bill to change worker visa sponsorship on projects that grind to a halt

Picture for illustrative purposes only.
Picture for illustrative purposes only.

Saudi Arabia has freed up rules which will allow construction workers on stalled projects to easily take up work with other contractors – and the state will foot the bill.

Labour minister Adel Fakeih made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that the new rule will apply only to labourers, technicians and supervisors of non-performing projects.

Migrant workers enter the Kingdom with their work visas sponsored by their employer and, should they wish to switch jobs, need the permission of their sponsor to do so. But, on stalled projects where sponsor permission is difficult to obtain – sometimes because managers can’t be tracked down – the workers are left in a state of limbo.

The new rules get around that by allowing new companies to hire labourers from stalled projects without needing the consent of the original sponsor. Each case will be reviewed by the Labour department before approval is given.

There are stipulations. Workers must not have been involved in any disciplinary action or financial fraud cases related to their original employers.

The announcement comes just days after Saudi officials arrested 4,165 illegal expats in Madinah, Tabuk and Jeddah in a series of raids.

It was reported last Wednesday that twelve hundred police officers had been deployed to arrest illegal workers in the west of the kingdom. At the time, Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Al Sooli, director general of Makkah Police, was quoted as saying that the deportation of illegal workers is “vital for the country’s stability and prosperity”.

Arab News reported that, following planned raids in the past week, the total number of illegal expats arrested in Madinah alone stands at 50,254. The raids took place across a range of locations, including the market place, malls, streets and at police checkpoints.

Madinah police chief Major General Abdul Hadi Al Shahrani was quoted as saying the raids were carried out “with the cooperation of all other relevant government agencies involved in [upholding] the local regulations”.

Those arrested are being held in custody and will be deported after a formal inquiry to ascertain the extent of their offenses. The campaign, which launched last autumn, will continue to flush out all illegals from the region, Al Shahrani told the newspaper.


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