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Workers strike at Jeddah biscuit factory
 Jeddah, 8 August 2001

 Production at two biscuit factories in Jeddah has come to a virtual standstill after 160 workers went on strike because they have not received their salaries for 13 months.

Muhammad Salama, production manager of Badra factories, has admitted that the strike has so far caused the company SR800,000 in financial losses.

Speaking to Arab News, Salama said a market depression, resulting from the closure of schools during the holidays, had caused the delay in salary payments.

“The management has reached an agreement with the workers to pay their salaries in monthly installments,” he added.

But the workers accused the management of issuing dud checks, and Arab News has seen a copy of a check returned by the bank saying there was insufficient balance to honor it.

It is also claimed that the company has refused to renew the iqamas for 120 of its workers.

The workers claim they are having to endure a number of other problems, including recurrent power cuts at their accommodation and some parts of the factory and non-payment of medical expenses.

“We did not put money in their bank accounts because of a halt in production and sales,” Salama says.

The company has recently signed agreements with private clinics to provide health services to its employees and Salama pointed out that the company was also making arrangements to renew the iqamas of 120 workers and improve the electricity supply both at the factories and staff accommodation.

The workers, on the other hand, insist that the management have not fulfilled salary obligations, which are now supervised by a Labor Office panel following a similar crisis at the factory last year.

The employees then stopped working when they did not receive their salaries for seven months.

Abdul Kareem Badra, supervisor at the factory, said the Saudi authorities had set up a committee to look into the complaints of workers. The panel, comprising representatives from the governorate, the Labor Office and the Passports Department, ruled that the company should pay three months’ salaries to the workers immediately.

In the Makkah region, the Foreign Ministry’s office had previously replied to a complaint from the Egyptian Consulate in Jeddah that Egyptian workers were caught up in labor disputes at the factories.

The two factories, owned by the Badra company, produce biscuits and confectioneries, rusks and chocolates. The company has eight production units and 16 packing machines in 12 branches across the Kingdom.

Source: Arab News©

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08 August 2001 05:41:31 PM

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