Saudi court sentences foreign workers to jail and flogging for protesting their delayed salaries

Dozens of foreign workers have reportedly been sentenced to flogging and jail in Saudi Arabia for unrest which erupted after wages went unpaid by the Binladin Group

The Saudi Criminal Court in Makkah has sentenced 49 workers found guilty of “rioting and damaging public property” while protesting their unpaid wages when employed by the Saudi Binladin Group, according to Al-Watan Saudi newspaper.

In reports on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s Al Watan and Arab News newspapers did not give the nationalities of the 49 workers, and foreign embassy staff could not immediately provide details.

Al-Watan said an unidentified number were sentenced to four months in prison and 300 lashes for destroying public property and inciting unrest.

Others were jailed for 45 days by the court in Mecca.

Construction sector workers, chiefly at the Binladin Group and another firm Saudi Oger, were left waiting for salaries after a collapse in oil revenues left the Kingdom unable to pay private firms it had contracted.

In May, Binladin Group employees set fire to at least seven company buses in a protest over unpaid salaries and a large round of reported layoffs by the construction giant.

A Binladin Group spokesman could not be reached on Tuesday. But late last year it said it had completed payment to 70,000 laid-off employees.

Workers still with the company would receive their back pay as the government settled its arrears, the company said.