Gulf news Pakistani officials discuss issues of workers

Pakistani officials discuss issues of workers

By Mahmood Hasan

JEDDAH — The visiting Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Pir Syed Sadaruddin Shah Rashidi, had a detailed meeting with the Saudi Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqbani in Riyadh Wednesday and discussed the issue of stranded Pakistani workers in the Kingdom.

Manzoor ul Haq, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Habibur Rehman Gillani, managing director of Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, accompanied the minister.

Speaking to Saudi Gazette, Ambassador Haq said the two parties discussed the issues related to the workers’ problems thoroughly.

“Workers’ unpaid salary, health, provision of food, renewal of iqama (resident card) and transfer of sponsorship were all discussed in detail,” he said.

The ambassador pointed out that workers of mainly two companies — Saudi Oger and Saad Contracting Company — were among the most affected.

Asked about the number of stranded Pakistani workers, he said: “It is difficult to give an exact figure, but we are talking about 8,000 to 10,000 workers,” adding that: “It is a fluid figure that keeps changing as some people leave as and when they get an opportunity.”

Talking about the mood in camps, Haq said that most of the people are unwilling to leave the country without their monetary benefits.

The Pakistani missions have been arranging food and medicines for those held up at the camps in Riyadh, Jeddah and Taif. A number of community groups have also come forward to share the burden in this respect.

The visiting minister will now move to Jeddah, where he will visit workers in camps on Thursday.

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