ISLAMABAD: Around 650 people, who were among 10,000 or so Pakistani workers laid off in Saudi Arabia after companies closed down, are now fighting for their unpaid salaries in labour courts before finally exiting the country.
As many as 10,356 Pakistani workers were left without jobs when a number of companies in Saudi Arabia were closed for different reasons, the Senate Committee on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development was informed on Tuesday.
While 6,100 returned to Pakistan, 3,520 were transferred to other employers in Saudi Arabia.
Over 10,000 Pakistani workers were rendered jobless after companies closed down in Saudi Arabia for different reasons, Senate body told
The committee met for a briefing on the status of the 650 Pakistanis still stuck in Saudi Arabia.
Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis Secretary Mohammad Asif informed the committee that one of the companies – Saudi Oger – owed more than 127 million Saudi riyals to the Pakistani workers. The civil court proceedings will take time and the Pakistani mission continues to pursue the matter. The mission has already requested the authorities for early decision of the pending cases and release of salaries to the workers.
“The matter was part of the agenda items discussed during high level meetings between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” said Special Assistant to Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bukhari.
Officials from the ministry said labour authorities in Saudi Arabia had also been asked to provide similar treatment to workers of other defaulting companies as done in case of Saudi Oger and Saad Construction.
The meeting was told that an estimated 50,000 Pakistanis had been repatriated during the last eight months. The officials said the Pakistani mission in Saudi Arabia had sought details of these Pakistanis but the reply from the concerned offices such as the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs is awaited.
The committee also took up the matter regarding illegal possession of properties of Pakistanis working abroad.
Chairman of the committee Hilalur Rehman lamented that the properties of the overseas Pakistanis in Pakistan were not safe at the hands of the land mafias.
Mr Asif said his office had received 5,437 complaints relating to illegal possession and property disputes out of which over 3,900 had been settled and the remaining 1,409 cases were under process in departments concerned.
However, the official conceded that settling land disputes for overseas Pakistanis was a difficult task with many power and influential people involved and supporting land grabbers.
Zulfiqar Bukhari also admitted that lack of facilities to assist overseas Pakistanis to resolve land disputes were insufficient.
The chairman directed the ministry officials to draft a legislation to assist the overseas Pakistanis in fighting their cases and protect their properties against illegal possession.
Mr Bukhari proposed the need for separate courts to settle such disputes on a fast track basis.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2018