Over 3,700 expats in Saudi Arabia await decisions in labor disputes

The labor office in Makkah has witnessed a large influx of expatriates who are following up on their complaints

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Statistics show that more than 3,740 expatriate workers have filed complaints against their Saudi employers concerning a number of issues, such as nonpayment of salaries, refusal to renew residency documents, preventing them from traveling and a host of other problems.

The labor office in Makkah has witnessed a large influx of expatriates who are following up on their complaints. These expatriates have criticized the slow process of dealing with complaints, and of their sponsors’ failure to show up at hearings.

A number of expatriate spoke to Al-Madinah daily about their problems.

Abdulati Abdulsalam, a plumber, said his sponsor had not paid him for the past six months and also accused him of insulting and mistreating him. He submitted his complaints to the preliminary committee at the labor office, but is still awaiting a decision as he wants to transfer his work visa to another employer.

Hakeem, a Pakistani national, said he had not been paid for the past eight months despite his constant requests to his employer. He also criticized the slow process of complaints.

Sameer Othman said his sponsor asked him to pay SR20,000 to renew his residence permit, an amount he cannot afford to pay. “I make SR1,700 a month, which is hardly enough to cover my expenses. My sponsor has also reported me to the concerned bodies and accused me of fleeing my job,” he said.

Othman’s case is currently under review with the preliminary committee.

Yaseen Abdulaziz said that he arrived in the Kingdom five years ago, and ever since, his sponsor has refused to allow him to travel to his country to see family, including his ill daughter. He hopes his case will be resolved soon.

Lawyer and judicial consultant, Abdullah Fallatah, said any expatriate has the right to file a complaint at the labor office against his employer for issues concerning their rights according to the work agreement.

He pointed out that complaints concerning mistreatment of workers are filed in specialized courts and asked anyone subjected to such problems to submit their complaints at these courts.

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