RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's labor minister said Tuesday that some employees of the Saudi Binladin Group will receive their salaries this month and others soon thereafter.
Thousands of employees of the construction giant have been holding rare protests over not being paid their salaries for up to six months. Employees set fire to company buses Saturday to also protest a large round of reported layoffs.
Construction firms in the Gulf have suffered from delayed government spending on major projects.
Labor Minister Mufrej al-Haqbani said workers are protected under Saudi labor law and would receive overdue salaries even if they are fired and issued exit visas.
Local Saudi newspapers have reported that the Saudi Binladin Group terminated employment for at least 50,000 foreign workers and was considering firing 12,000 Saudis.
The Saudi Binladin Group is one of the world's largest construction firms. Founded in 1931 and headquartered in Jiddah, the firm has been behind some of Saudi Arabia's most important projects, including roads, tunnels, airports, universities and hotels.
The Binladin family has been close to Saudi Arabia's ruling family for decades. Al-Qaida's late leader Osama bin Laden was a renegade son of the construction firm's founder, Mohammed bin Laden, and was disowned by the family in the 1990s.