Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s government has transferred delayed funds to construction giant Saudi Binladin Group so it can pay back-wages to its remaining employees, the company said on Monday.
The firm “received some payment in the last couple of weeks”, Yaseen Alattas, Saudi Binladin Group’s chief communications officer, told AFP.
He declined to comment on the amount.
Delayed receipts from the government, whose oil revenues have dropped significantly over the past two years, have left tens of thousands of employees of the kingdom’s construction firms struggling while they wait for salaries.
Alattas said Saudi Binladin Group has already finished payments to around 70,000 laid-off workers.
“They got paid completely with all their due salaries and their final indemnities,” he said, adding that the expatriates among them have gone home.
Some workers still with the company have also received their delayed wages, “based on the payments that are coming now from the government”, whose business is the foundation of Saudi construction contracts.
Alattas said those payments will continue “based proportionately to the payments as they come from the government”.
He was not specific about how many employees remain with the company, but said it is a “floating number” based on projects.
Alattas has previously said the number of laid-off workers was a fraction of manpower at the Group which built some of the kingdom’s landmarks.
The Wall Street Journal, citing two people familiar with the matter, reported Sunday that the government paid Saudi Binladin Group between $800 million and $1.1 billion in September to cover unpaid wages.
Alattas told AFP in May that there had been “multiple reasons” for the wage delays, but one was related to “cash flow”.
The firm was also suspended for several months from new government projects after a deadly crane accident in September last year at Mecca’s Grand Mosque.
Saudi Binladin Group was founded more than 80 years ago by the father of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed five years ago by US Navy SEALs.
Tens of thousands of employees of once-mighty construction firm Saudi Oger are also suffering. Many have gone unpaid for up to nine months.