Grace period ‘exploited by some bosses’

Updated 08 July 2013
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Grace period ‘exploited by some bosses’

Some illegal expatriate workers here claim their sponsors are using the amnesty as an excuse to withhold payment of their salaries.
The workers say they have yet to transfer to their current sponsors or find new sponsors. They say their sponsors are refusing to pay, claiming the Ministry of Labor would penalize them for making payments to illegal workers.
Rahma Ramadan, an Egyptian graphic designer who works illegally for a marketing company, said she has not received a salary since the announcement of the first amnesty three months ago.
“I always received my salary by check. When the raids started, the company stopped paying all illegal employees. When we asked the human resources department why this was happening, they claimed that the labor and passport offices were watching all salary transfers and that it was dangerous to make any payments,” she said.
“I don’t think there is any current plan by the Labor Ministry to check our salaries yet. I think our company is lying to avoid giving us salaries,” she said.
Ramadan said her company promised to pay her once the company sponsored her.
“I submitted my documents three months ago, but it's still being processed, which is why I have not received any money. With the amnesty now extended by four months, I expect the passport office to slow down again, which will lead to further delays in payment,” she said.
Mo’memen Hwamdeh, a Jordanian working for a private insurance company, said he has not received a salary for the past two months.
“My original sponsor let me work for another company, but my iqama and sponsorship is under him. I'm paying him a monthly fee of SR 1,000. When the amnesty was announced, he asked me to transfer my sponsorship, which is why all my documents have been at the passport office for the past two months. Since my iqama was there, I couldn’t get my salary through the bank,” he said.
He claimed that the bank asked him to renew his data, which would then allow him to withdraw his salary. “When I asked my company to pay me in cash or by check, they refused,” he said.
Other workers claim their sponsors are blackmailing them by threatening to report them if they ask for their salaries.
Ibrahim Hassan, an Eritrean driver, said: “I work as a driver for a small water factory. They've always paid me in cash every month. When the raids started, the owner stopped paying me. He asked me to give him my passport and iqama to transfer my sponsorship. After he collected my ID and passport, he stopped paying me.”
Adnan Ali, a Syrian accountant working for a private company, also claimed that his company stopped paying when the amnesty period started.
“When I left my company without getting any payment, I joined a small company managed by Saudi youth. They initially paid my salary for two months, but in the final month of the first amnesty, the owner paid me only 50 percent of my salary,” Ali said.
“When I asked him to pay me, he threatened to report me to the labor office. Due to my bad financial situation, I will continue working for half my salary, but will search for a new job.”
Expatriates are under further financial pressure because they are forced to pay huge sums to change their work status. The labor raids had also seen some black market operators charge between SR 10,000 and SR 25,000 to sort out sponsorship problems.


Italy pledges electronic warfare support to Saudi Arabia

Updated 49 min 47 sec ago
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Italy pledges electronic warfare support to Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi-Italian collaboration to develop electronic defense solutions pushed in workshop organized by the Italian Embassy, KACST and Elettronica SpA
  • Italy's Elettronica specializes in the designing and manufacturing electronic warfare equipment

RIYADH: Italy has pledged to support the Kingdom with electronic warfare and defense electronics, offering a range of state-of-the-art solutions to counter threats. 

The call for Saudi-Italian collaboration was made on Thursday at a workshop organized jointly by the Italian Embassy, the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Italian-based Elettronica SpA, a world leader in electronic warfare.

Italian Ambassador to the Kingdom Luca Ferrari welcomed the workshop initiative, and said: “We are working to develop a strategic partnership between our two countries, building on decades of excellent political and economic collaboration.

“Such initiatives increase mutual understanding and knowledge between Italian and Saudi counterparts and foster further opportunities for collaboration.” 

Ferrari added that the workshop is a proof of Italian industries’ and institutes’ willingness to strengthen the relationship between the two countries through working with local high-tech university centers and industries in Saudi Arabia.

He added: “The move on the part of the Italian government and our companies comes within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030, which calls for foreign partnerships to diversify the economy, cut reliance on oil and build a robust Saudi defense sector.”

The workshop, entitled “The Digital Revolution: Impacts on defense electronics, security and life,” looked at electronic warfare, cyber intelligence, the future of autonomous vehicles and implications of the digital revolution for the defense industry. 

Enzo Benigni, Elettronica’s chairman and chief executive officer, said: “Italian institutes and companies are keen to embrace the Saudi Vision 2030, and to support the growth of the defense industry and overall defense sector of the Kingdom. 

“We work in Saudi Arabia to create high-value cooperation with the Saudi armed forces and local partners with an aim to build a world-class defense sector of the Kingdom.”

Benigni said Elettronica specializes in the designing and manufacturing electronic warfare, from single stand-alone equipment to complete integrated systems, for naval, airborne and ground applications as well as for space and homeland security.