Saudi Arabia to deport Chinese workers over protests

Friday, October 15, 2010

RIYADH - Work on a light rail project in Saudi Arabia resumed Friday following protests earlier in the week by at least 100 Chinese workers demanding higher wages, improved housing and better working conditions, Saudi newspapers reported.

The kingdom moved to arrest at least 16 of the workers after the protest began Tuesday.

Saudi authorities told the local newspaper Saudi Gazette that the detained workers would be deported.

The workers, who were in their fourth month of an 18-month contract, were charged with “inciting the cessation of work” and are expected to pay for damages inflicted on four cars during the protest, according to Saudi media.

It was also reported that local authorities received a written pledge from the China Railway Construction Corporation stating that the incident would not be repeated. No further details were given.

In January 2009, a similar incident occurred when Chinese workers protested, saying they received lower salaries than was promised. Shortly after, several Chinese workers allegedly involved in that protest were deported from the kingdom.

According to China’s Commerce Ministry, the number of Chinese citizens listed as officially working overseas could reach one million before the end of the year.

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