By Matt Egan – Re-Blogged From CNN-Money
The Saudi Binladin Group, a massive construction company founded by the father of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has laid off at least 50,000 workers, according to local press reports.
The job cuts come as the Saudi government has delayed payment to construction firms and cut spending to grapple with the plunging price of oil, which makes up three-quarters of the government’s revenue.
Saudi-based newspaper al-Watan reported the Binladin Group terminated the contracts of 50,000 workers — mostly foreigners — and has given them permanent exit visas to leave the country. Some workers refused to leave the kingdom because they claim the company has not paid them for months, the paper reported.
The Saudi military confirmed to al-Watan that protesting workers torched seven buses in Mecca — a rare sight in Saudi Arabia, which Human Rights Watch has criticized for cracking down on free speech and imprisoning peaceful dissidents.
The layoffs are on top of the 15,000 workers cut last year after the Binladin Group’s contracts were frozen when a crane collapsed at Mecca’s Grand Mosque last year. The incident killed more than 100 people and the company was involved in the expansion project.