The government is making arrangements to bring back some 200 Cypriot employees of the now defunct Joannou & Paraskevaides Overseas who are stranded in Saudi Arabia, it was announced on Wednesday.
According to an announcement by Sek trade union, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides following the intervention of the union, gave instructions to Cyprus’ ambassador to Saudi Arabia to arrange for the repatriation of the Cypriot employees of J&P who are stranded in the country.
All expenses will be paid by the government of Cyprus, the union said.
The secretary general of Sek, Andreas Matsas, thanked the minister for his initiative. He also gave reassurances that the union is monitoring closely developments concerning the closure of the construction company and will not rest until all issues concerning the employees are settled.
The company used to employ around 6,000 people in Saudi Arabia, of whom around 200 are Cypriots. The Cypriot employees had said that they hadn’t been paid for five months and could not afford to buy air tickets to return to the island.
They had also said that the company has misappropriated the amount withheld from their wages for social insurance and the welfare fund, which have not been paid to the Cyprus government for 2017 and 2018.
Stranded in Saudi Arabia are also around 5,000 nationals from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal and Egypt, employed by J&P Overseas. In a series of letters released to the media in recent weeks, they have said they are now living in camps like prisoners as their work permits have expired and they are unable to move freely in the country.
Similar conditions are faced by J&P Overseas staff elsewhere in the Gulf.
The problems at J&P Overseas emerged earlier this year and culminated last month with the company going into liquidation, after banks rejected the company’s restructuring proposal.