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Troubled Saudi firm lays off Quran printers

printing-firm

RIYADH: Woes deepened on Wednesday for employees of troubled conglomerate Saudi Oger which laid off more than 1,300 staff at a printing plant for the holy Quran, a newspaper reported.

The once-mighty firm led by Lebanon’s billionaire former prime minister Saad Hariri has been hit by a drop in income from its core construction business after Saudi Arabia delayed or cancelled projects in the face of plummeting oil revenues.

Other construction companies, which are dependent on state contracts, have also suffered because of delayed government receipts.

But sources earlier told AFP that the broader economic context is compounded at Saudi Oger by deeper problems including poor management.

The Saudi Gazette said the contract staff at the King Fahad Quran Printing Complex in the holy city of Medina received termination notices on Tuesday.

It said it obtained a copy of the notice ordering workers “to complete the end of service procedures” as their contracts had been terminated on September 3.

They are the latest among tens of thousands of employees of Saudi Oger to suffer from the firm’s financial troubles.

More than 30,000 Saudi Oger Ltd construction workers, mostly from Pakistan, India and the Philippines, have gone unpaid for up to nine months.

The Saudi Gazette said the printing plant staff had also gone months without pay or allowances.

Last month, King Salman announced a $27 million assistance plan for unpaid construction workers. It helps them with food, medical needs, a trip home, exit visas or, if they want, transfer to another employer in Saudi Arabia.

On its website, Saudi Oger says it was the prime contractor in the construction of the Medina printing plant and then became involved in its operation and maintenance.

The Saudi Gazette said the government had begun the tendering process to find a new operator.

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