Jeddah: More than 2,000 distressed Bangladeshi workers who demonstrated here yesterday demanding their passports, salaries and exit papers have settled their dispute with their company.
The workers had protested outside their company’s headquarters claiming that their employer had not renewed their residential permits (iqamas), and were refusing to give them their passports so they could transfer to new employers or go home.
They were afraid of being deported without getting their dues. They had been working for a company called Qutab Handrix that was taken over by another company.
A number of workers called Arab News yesterday and said that the company delivered 18 renewed residential permits and promised that other workers would also have their permits renewed.
Abdul Sattar, a worker, said: “We had a talk with the company authorities and they assured us that all 2,000 workers will get iqamas, so we should go back to our homes and return to work.”
Mohammed Mukhlis, another worker, said he hoped the company would deliver on its promises. “We want the company to sign an agreement with us because the agreement we signed was with the previous company. Although they have made promises and delivered some iqamas to our fellow workers, we have asked the consulate and the newspaper to help us if we are wronged again,” he said.
Some of the workers said they were still not satisfied and want to transfer their iqamas or get exit visas.
Bangladesh labor consul Mukamal Husain told Arab News that the consulate has been helping the workers, with the consul general holding talks with the chief executive officer of the company.
Husain said that the company had been asked to provide iqamas, to release the workers’ passports so they could transfer to other companies and to sign a work agreement with the workers. He confirmed that some workers had received their iqamas and had gone back to work.
He added that the consulate was monitoring the situation to make sure the workers’ demands were being met. However, he warned the workers that it was against Saudi law to demonstrate and go on strike.
A spokesman of the new firm said the dispute has been resolved “calmly with all staff returning to work the following day after understanding their legal status with the company which was previously unclear.”
“It has now been clarified that the employees are legal and the amnesty period does not apply to them. Furthermore, the employees understand that due to the congestion prevailing at the Labor Ministry and immigration departments the issuance of their iqamas were delayed.”
He further said the agreement was reached with the collective effort of the consulate, police and other government departments.
Source: Arab News