Saudi Binladin Group lays off 77,000 workers
The construction company has issued 77,000 exit visas to foreign workers and is expected to lay off between 12,000 and 17,000 Saudi nationals
Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) has laid off around 77,000 foreign workers and plans to cut thousands of jobs held by Saudi nationals, al-Watan newspaper has reported.
The construction company has issued 77,000 exit visas to foreign workers so that they can leave the Kingdom - and is expected to lay off 12,000 to 17,000 Saudis in supervisory, administrative, engineering and management jobs, the newspaper quoted an unnamed source in SBG as saying.
This follow claims that workers of Binladin allegedly set fire to company buses in protest over job cuts and salary delays.
Yesterday, in an emailed statement to ConstructionWeekOnline, Yaseen Alattas, chief communications officer at Binladin Holding Co, said manpower adjustment is "normal routine".
He said: "Our manpower size is always proportional to the nature and scale of the undertaken projects, along with the time spans required to complete them.
"Adjusting the size of our manpower is a normal routine especially whenever projects are completed or near completion.
"Most of the released jobs had initially been recruited for contracted projects with specific time frame and deliverables," Alattas continued.
"We do understand that manpower reductions are never easy for all involved.
"However, the Group is honouring its commitments and the affected employees have already received their full compensations and any other entitlements in accordance with the applicable laws.
"We will honour the same commitment in case further manpower is released.”
While Saudi construction firms regularly cut or expand their foreign staff in respone to changing demand in the industry, they rarely lay off large number of Saudis - partly because it is legally difficult and expensive.
Binladin has been under pressure since last September, when it was suspending from receiving new state contracts after a crane toppled into Mecca's Grand Mosque, killing 107 people.
In addition, the company has been hit by fallout from low oil prices which have led to government spending cuts to curb a budget deficit that totalled almost $100bn last year.
In response, some unpaid staff have stopped turning up for work, slowing work on some Binladin projects such as the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh.