ISLAMABAD - In compliance with the directions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to help the laid-off Pakistani workers, Pakistan’s Embassy in Riyadh has set up Special Facilitation Centre and special fund to provide food and other assistance to the distressed.

The Embassy has also facilitated Pakistani workforce in compiling claims for their dues and salaries.

The Prime Minister has instructed the Pakistani Embassy to assist the Pakistani workers in distress and take all possible steps to resolve their grievances at the earliest.

The Foreign Office has apprised the Prime Minister that the Pakistani Mission has made arrangements for ensuring food supply, medical assistance and settlement of the salaries and outstanding dues of the employees, as soon as possible.

The workers will be facilitated in transfer of work permits of those workers who decide to leave the company and will also facilitate workers to travel to their homeland, if they opt to do so.

The Embassy has further informed that Saudi Arabian King has issued a decree for urgent payment of dues to workers by the concerned.

The Prime Minister further directed the Foreign Office to ensure provision of all necessary support to the Pakistani workers.

“We stand by our hardworking workers who are away from their homeland to earn a living for their families. They are our strength and pride. We will help them out in all possible ways”, expressed the Prime Minister.

Earlier the FO said the government is working to resolve the problems faced by Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia.

An FO statement said, “Pakistani workers from two companies, namely M/s Saad Trading and Contracting Company, Al-Khobar (520 workers) and Saudi Oger Limited (8000 workers) are currently facing problems in getting their salaries and ‘end of service’ benefits.”

It added: “In addition, the resident permits of many of the employees have not been renewed by the company. The companies do not refuse the claims of their employees but they have not been able to pay their dues for several months. In the given circumstances, most of the workers want to leave these companies but only after settling their dues.”

The spokesman of the Foreign Office said there were around 520 workers from M/s Saad Trading and Contracting Company living in three camps namely i) Dessert camp, ii) Al-Azizia camp, and iii) Abqiaq Camp, all located in the eastern region.

“Estimated number of affected Pakistanis in the Saudi Oger company is up to 8,000. Around 20 per cent are living on their own while majority of them are living in various camps set up by the company in Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Taif and Makkah regions,” he added.

The spokesman said that Pakistani Ambassador in Saudi Arabia was vigorously pursuing this matter with Deputy Foreign Minister, Minister of Justice and Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Governor of Eastern Province as well as the management of the companies concerned. Embassy teams have visited all the camps in Dammam and provided food to the workers.

“The camps in Riyadh and Jeddah regions have been visited by the Community Welfare Attaches. The mission's representatives have visited the labour court in Dammam several times and have facilitated Pakistani work force in compiling claims for their dues and salaries. Saudi Oger Ltd Management in Al-Khobar has confirmed that the company food and other facilities in all its camps are being provided,” he said.

He said that the Saudi Arabian King has issued a decree for urgent payment of dues to workers by Saudi Oger Company and resolve the situation.

“The company will also facilitate those workers who wish to leave. The company would provide air tickets and renew their resident permits. Those who want to transfer their ‘iqamas’ will also be facilitated. The officials of both the companies assured us that the companies are trying their best to resolve the problem,” he said.

He said that the Ministry had approved an amount of SAR 100,000 (equivalent to Pak Rs27,85,000) from PCW&E Fund for providing relief to the workers by the Embassy.

The Ministry has instructed the Embassy to keep pursuing the authorities concerned to ensure food supply and medical facilities to the workers, settle the salaries and outstanding dues of the employees as soon as possible, facilitate the workers to travel to their homeland if they opt to do so and facilitate the transfer of work permit of those workers who decide to leave the company, he said.