ISLAMABAD -  Another batch of around 70 Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia has been left to live on the breadline after not being paid for over a year by a construction firm — “Redico-KSA”.

The stranded Pakistan workers said that the situation was increasingly becoming desperate for them after they were not paid salaries and their permits (iqamas) not renewed.

The Nation has learnt that these affected Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia have not been paid salaries by Redico for the last over a year, and their permits have not been renewed/issued for the last two years.

These stranded penniless Pakistanis, most of them labourers, were living in Jubail RC camps 2 and 14 after they found it difficult to manage their daily expenditures without salaries.

The non-renewal of ‘iqamas’ has made it impossible for them to work somewhere else or with other firms or owners as it was against the Saudi labour laws.

Jumma Khan, an affected employee of Redico, who hailed from Islamabad, said that they were facing the worst kind of employment exploitation. He said that they have got no assistance from the Pakistani embassy in the Kingdom despite repeated requests.

He said that when they contacted the Pakistani embassy six months back, the officials told them that the computer system of the embassy had been hacked and once it was restored, the embassy will assist them.

“It has been six months now but the embassy has done nothing for us, leaving us in the lurch in a far-off land,” Khan said with trembling voice.

On March 22, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider through a letter addressed to Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Pir Syed Sadaruddin Shah Rashidi also made a request to help out these trapped workers but nothing has been done in this regard.

When contacted, Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said that there were 105 Pakistani employees in Redico, and of them, 49 have switched over to other companies.

He said that at the moment, the total number of the affected Pakistanis was 56. Zakaria confirmed that these Pakistani employees have not been paid salaries and other benefits by the firm as per the contract.

“Relatives of most of the affected Pakistanis have been paid Rs50,000 each under the prime minister scheme,” Zakariya claimed. However, his claim was rejected by the affected Pakistanis, who told The Nation, that relatives of only 5 to 7 people have got an amount of Rs10000 to Rs15,000 and not Rs 50,000.

The FO spokesperson also said that these stranded Pakistanis have registered a case in local labour court, whereas the Pakistanis embassy staff was in contact with Saudi Ministry of Labour and Royal Commission as well as the administration of Redico to sort out the issue.

The spokesperson said that the Pakistani embassy staff was appearing for hearings in the labour court for getting them their outstanding dues and privileges by the firm.

“The Pakistani embassy is working with the local immigration department for the final exit of all 56 Pakistani workers. It is expected that they would be brought home soon.”  The spokesman said that in case the travel tickets were not provided by the Saudi government or by Redico, the embassy will try to make arrangements to get them home.