[Civil Defense personnel extinguishing the fire after seven buses were torched by a mob of protesting workers outside the Saudi Binladin Group's residential quarters in Makkah on Saturday night. (Okaz photo)]
Makkah: Workers at Saudi Binladin Group, one of the Kingdom’s largest employers, set fire to buses on Saturday amid protests at being laid off and told to leave the kingdom without being paid for several months work.
Footage uploaded to YouTube showed workers of the Saudi Binladin Group protesting outside the construction company’s offices in Makkah, and setting fire to seven buses.
Makkah Civil Defense spokesman Capt. Naif Al-Sharif said the Civil Defense received reports that seven buses parked near the residential quarters of the Saudi Binladen Group were on fire. The Civil Defense managed to extinguish the fire. There were no injuries.
Saudi daily Okaz reported that fires on seven buses in Mecca had been extinguished without any fatalities, adding that local authorities had launched an investigation into the incident.
However, the newspaper did not mention the cause of the fire, which was by angry former Binladin employees.
The protesting workers are among 50,000 foreign labourers who have been sacked by the private company as the kingdom’s revenues have declined due to low oil prices, which have forced government spending cuts.
Saudi daily al-Watan reported on Friday that Binladin had given the sacked foreign workers a permanent exit visa to leave the country but many of them do not want to leave because they claim not to have been paid properly.
The mass sacking by Binladin constitutes a 25 percent reduction of its total 200,000 workforce, according to its LinkedIn page. The company, which was established in 1931 is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest employers. It has been responsible for large construction projects.
The company, which was established in 1931 is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest employers and it has been responsible for large construction projects including building towers in the capital Riyadh, and universities and airports in the western port city of Jeddah.