By P K Abdul Ghafour
JEDDAH — The Saudi Labor Ministry has announced that it has drawn up a plan along with the Interior Ministry to track down and punish illegal workers and their employers.
“We have formed inspection teams and given them the authority to conduct raids on firms employing undocumented workers,” said Abdullah bin Nasser Abuthnain, deputy labor minister for inspections and developing work atmosphere.
He said each team would have at least two qualified inspectors, adding that security officers would back them. Interior Ministry officers have been given the authority to arrest undocumented workers in the street, he added.
The minister’s statement comes ahead of the November 3 deadline, when the six-month amnesty announced by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for expats to legalize their labor and residency status ends.
The Labor Ministry conducted a workshop for its officials to carry out raids on private firms soon after the end of the amnesty. “We will not show any leniency toward undocumented workers after the amnesty. The six-month period was enough for firms and expats to legalize their status,” Abuthnain said.
He said inspection teams would arrest illegal workers at their firms and impose punishment on workers and their employers. “The inspections will cover all institutions and there will be no exceptions,” he said. The move is aimed at reorganizing the labor market and creating more jobs for Saudis.
He urged all private firms and foreign workers to make use of the remaining days of the amnesty to legalize their status. An Indonesian consulate official said about 81,000 illegal workers from his country have little hope of rectifying their status or obtaining travel documents for repatriation before the amnesty deadline.—Arab News