Diplomats urge Saudi king to extend worker amnesty

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Foreign diplomats, businesses and expats have called on Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to give illegal workers longer to legalise their status in the country, according to Arab News.

They have requested the three-month amnesty be extended or a new one decreed for the beginning of the next Islamic year, which in 2013 will be on November 3.

Illegal workers are running out of time to meet the present deadline of July 3 to either gain lawful employment or leave the country without ramifications.

Thousands of workers from countries such as India, the Philippines, Yemen and Egypt have lined up at their respective embassies seeking assistance, as well as at numerous job fairs that have taken place to help them link up with businesses willing to take on more expats.

However, some workers have complained that businesses are taking advantage of their desperate situation and providing salaries well below what they were previously earning.

Remittances from such jobs are crucial to many of the expats, who send money home to support their families.

A senior Labour Ministry official told Arab News he supported calls to extend the deadline.

 “We welcome the calls to extend the deadline. But the amnesty, which is declared by King Abdullah, cannot be extended except by another royal decree,” Abdul Monem Al-Shahri, director of the Labour Office in Jeddah, said.

 “We’ll present these proposals to the concerned authorities and we’ll continue our services to those foreigners who wanted to correct their status before the deadline.”

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