Saudi Arabia sentenced dozens of foreign construction workers to lashes and jail for a protest held several months ago over unpaid wages.
A court in Mecca on Tuesday sentenced some of the workers to four months in prison and 300 lashes for staging the protest, during which public property was destroyed, and for allegedly inciting unrest during the demonstration. Others were jailed for 45 days.
The workers, employed by the Binladin Group and Saudi Oger, had not been paid for months following a fall in the kingdom’s oil revenues, which made Riyadh unable to pay private firms it had contracted to do building projects, Presstv reported.
The unpaid workers had reportedly set fire to several buses belonging to the Binladin Group in Mecca last April, Saudi daily Arab News said.
Saudi Arabia, once known for its extravagant public spending, has been severely hit by the plunge in global oil prices. Petrodollars constitute the main part of the kingdom’s income.
Several protests by unpaid foreign workers have been reported across Saudi Arabia over the past months.
In December last year, Saudi Arabia sacked Labor Minister Mufarrej al-Haqbani after only seven months in office amid industrial firms’ failure to either pay or provide basic amenities for a large number of their workers for months on end.
Besides plunging oil revenues, Saudi Arabia’s multi-billion-dollar military campaign in its southern neighbor, Yemen, has also hit the kingdom’s budget, resulting in a huge deficit.