Bangladeshi cleaners accuse employer of exploitation

Bangladeshi cleaners accuse employer of exploitation
Updated 31 May 2013

Bangladeshi cleaners accuse employer of exploitation

Bangladeshi cleaners accuse employer of exploitation

More than 2,000 Bangladeshis working as cleaners demonstrated in front of their company’s headquarters yesterday in Jeddah, demanding the company release their passports, pay their salaries and clear their exit papers.
Worker Mohammed Shopon Sayed Ali told Arab news that they have been waiting outside the company’s offices since 7 a.m. to persuade the officials to concede their rights.
He said most of the employees have been working in the Kingdom for six years. However, their employers have not renewed their residency permits (iqamas) in the last three to five years. With 37 days left for the amnesty to expire, they fear they will be repatriated without receiving their dues.
Ali said that the company has not renewed their residency permits nor allowed the workers to transfer their sponsorships to other companies.
Arab News attempted to reach the consul general for comment, but didn’t get any response.
Citing strength in numbers, Ali said the workers came together and staged the rally at the company offices because they fear if individuals visit the company officials they might be deported without getting their dues.
The protesting workers have three demands: A request that the company release their passports before the amnesty period ends, clearance of their exit papers and settlement of their salaries and end of service benefits.
Mohammed Mukhlis, another employee working for the company, said they were formerly under the sponsorship of another company, Qutab Handrix, but sent to work with at the current company. When Qutab Handrix refused to renew the workers’ residency permits, they requested the company they were sent to work at to transfer their iqamas or release their passports in order for them to seek work at other companies.
“We have been coming to the company for four days in a row and we even visited our consulate for assistance,” he said. “However, no one seems to be listening to us or lending a helping hand. We are the ones suffering and we will face graver problems when the amnesty period ends. All 2,500 of us are demanding the company clear our exit documents and settle our accounts.”
A spokesman for the company told Arab News that more than 1,000 of the employees have valid residency permits and have expressed their willingness to continue working with the company.
He also said Qutab Handrix is currently transferring the workers to their sponsorship according to the labor laws. He said the process of transferring sponsorships takes time and the workers need to be patient.
“More than 70 percent of our workers possess valid iqamas,” said the company spokesman.
He further said according to the new law, all the workers have to have residential permits from the company they are working for. The company authorities at the work site have put up notices requesting the workers to approach the human resources department for their iqamas, passports and end of service benefits.