Friday, October 15, 2010

Saudi deports striking Chinese rail builders

Middle East Online, Oct 14, 2010
The monorail will link Mecca with the holy sites

16 Chinese workers will be deported for protesting for higher wages, better working conditions.

RIYADH – Saudi authorities are deporting 16 Chinese workers on a light railway project in the Muslim holy city of Mecca after they led a protest for higher wages, Saudi media said on Thursday.

The 16 were arrested on Tuesday after a strike by Chinese workers over pay and conditions that saw several vehicles damaged, the Al-Watan newspaper reported citing a Mecca police spokesman.

Earlier reports said workers on the project were frustrated by low pay, non-payment of wages and the high temperatures they endure working in the desert kingdom.

Several hundred Chinese workers were brought in by a consortium led by China Railway Corp for the planned 1.8 billion dollar rapid transport system to serve pilgrims visiting the Muslim holy places.

The monorail will link Mecca with the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah, which are visited by massive tides of pilgrims during the annual hajj.

Begun in early 2009, the project is scheduled to be partially in operation in time for this year’s hajj, which begins around November 14.

There has been criticism of the carriages the consortium intends to use on the monorail but Al-Watan reported that it had been rejected by the Chinese.
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