50,000 expats retrenched by Saudi Binladin

50,000 expats retrenched by Saudi Binladin
Many projects have been placed on hold for various reasons. (AFP)
Updated 01 May 2016

50,000 expats retrenched by Saudi Binladin

50,000 expats retrenched by Saudi Binladin

JEDDAH: The Saudi Binladin Group has reportedly retrenched more than 50,000 expat employees over the past few days, with reports citing various reasons, including labor law changes and completion of some major projects.
Another reason cited is that the government had placed restrictions on the company’s operations after its engineers were found guilty of negligence in the crane crash at the Grand Mosque in Makkah in September last year, which claimed the lives of 107 worshippers.
Speaking to Arab News, at least three employees working at the company’s various projects confirmed the massive layoffs. The engineers, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the number would increase in the coming days. Those who have been laid off include engineers, foremen, steel fixers, carpenters and welders.
The workers said the company gave those at stalled projects in Makkah and Jeddah four options. One, they could stay at home without pay. Two, get released and find alternate jobs with other employers in the Kingdom. Three, try for an internal transfer at the group’s other projects in the Kingdom; and four, take their severance pay and leave on final exit visas.
All three employees told Arab News that the company has been extremely honest in clearing all dues of those going on a final exit. “Binladin has always been known for its honesty, and they have never shortchanged their employees,” said one engineer.

The problem right now, the engineers said, is that many projects have been placed on hold for various reasons. The company’s signature projects, such as the Makkah Clock Tower and the King Abdullah Extension of the Grand Mosque, are complete. These two projects had absorbed a large number of employees.
The other major project, that of the expansion of the mataf, the circumambulating area around the Kaaba, is nearing completion.
There have been reports that many people working for subcontractors of the Saudi Binladin Group at King Abdul Aziz International Airport Project have not been paid their salaries for four months, leading to frustration among these workers. Last week, the anger boiled over with a few workers injured during scuffles with project managers at the site.
There is total unanimity among the employees that many more people will be laid off. “We cannot see light at the end of this tunnel for the Saudi Binladin Group,” said one engineer, referring to the slump in the construction industry generally.
The Saudi Binladin Group is divided into six major companies. “The Architectural and Building Construction Division, popularly known as ABCD, employs more than 200,000 people and its employees are among the most affected,” said the engineer who is at home because there is no work. “My uncle is taking care of the daily needs of myself and my family,” he said.
“Not many are so lucky. They can’t sustain themselves without their monthly salaries, so they are heading home after taking their end-of-service benefits.”
The names of employees to be laid off are being posted on notice boards at the project offices of the company. Those whose names are on the list have been told to contact the company’s human resources directors to choose one of the four options.
The construction giant prospered during the Kingdom’s economic boom over the past decade, employing thousands of workers as it built many of the flagship infrastructure projects, including airports, tunnels, bridges, highways and skyscrapers.