Bosses at Saudi airport to investigate porters’ strike

Around 380 workers held strike at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport

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Managers at King Abdulaziz International Airport, which serves Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, are investigating a porters’ strike that lasted for two days.

A source told Saudi Gazette that if the company employing the workers was found to be at fault, it would be subject to punitive measures.

Around 380 workers went on strike on Thursday as they were asked by their company to perform additional duties.

The workers then refused to work at the airport.

The employing company reached an agreement Saturday with the workers, who then ended their strike.

The workers’ primary task is to take luggage from the baggage conveyor belts and load them into vehicles for SR10 a passenger.

Each of the workers has been asked to give the company a daily amount of SR110.

The workers said they were then asked to collect luggage trolleys and perform other tasks, adding this would delay them from collecting the amount they would have to give to the company.

The employees, mainly from Nepal, India and Bangladesh, work for eight hours a day and do not get paid a monthly salary.

Instead, they have to work hard to make in excess of SR110.

Lawyer Khaled Halawani, who specializes in worker issues, said it is legal for workers to go on strike.

“The Saudi system states that if workers, Saudi or non-Saudi, are being asked to do extra tasks outside of their contractual agreement they have the right to stop work immediately.

“Then they should inform the Ministry of Labor or the labor office.”

The only authorized government body that can deal with these issues is the Ministry of Labor, Halawani told Al-Eqtisadiah, adding that not even the police can deal with labor-related cases.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on March 10, 2014

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