Dozens of workers in Saudi Arabia went on strike Tuesday, blocking a highway in protest over unpaid wages, according to Middle East Eye, a London-based news site.
The outlet obtained photos and videos of the event, which was a rare occurrence in a country where labor unions are banned.
The highway blockage on Tuesday occurred in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province. Most of the striking workers were Indian and Pakistani nationals, according to Middle East Eye news editor Rori Donaghy.
Angry Indian & Pakistani workers protested not being paid for 7 months by Saudi's Saad Group and blocked the road to Dammam in Hassa today. pic.twitter.com/3n6egRPDLM
Angry Indian & Pakistani workers protested not being paid for 7 months by Saudi's Saad Group and blocked the road to Dammam in Hassa today. pic.twitter.com/3n6egRPDLM— Rori Donaghy (@roridonaghy) September 27, 2016
The workers are reportedly members of a large Saudi company known as the Saad Group. The Saad Group consists of a number of privately-owned businesses in the Gulf and also has investments around the world, according to its website. It’s owned by billionaire Maan Al Sanea, who’s originally from Kuwait and who was once a big-time shareholder in the bank HSBC.
Footage shows rare public protest in Saudi - foreign staff at Saad Group block road between Hasa and Dammam over not being paid in 7 months. pic.twitter.com/TgQ2GzK7xf
Footage shows rare public protest in Saudi - foreign staff at Saad Group block road between Hasa and Dammam over not being paid in 7 months. pic.twitter.com/TgQ2GzK7xf— Rori Donaghy (@roridonaghy) September 27, 2016
This isn’t the first time disgruntled Saad Group employees have publicly complained about unpaid wages. Last week, almost all of the 1,200 nurses at Saad Specialist Hospital in the Saudi city of Khobar went on strike after apparently not receiving their salaries, according to Agence France Presse.
Twitter users expressed shock at the protests in Saudi Arabia. “It's rather amazing to see labour protests like these,” @BaFana3 said.
Others called out the Saudi company for apparently being un-Islamic. “Pay the worker before his sweat dries, said rasool [the messenger of] Allah,” said @retinaguy. “Way to go!”
The bigger picture here is that Saudi Arabia, which is the biggest economy in the Arab world, is facing a fiscal crisis now that the price of oil is plummeting. The Gulf nation hands out major perks to its 30 million citizens but can no longer afford to do so.
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