Why do Street Cleaners beg for money in Saudi Arabia?

The several thousands of street cleaners who play a vital role in keeping the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia clean can often be seen begging for money near the traffic lights, malls, and even major restaurants. It is calculated that there are 6,000 cleaners in the capital alone. These men usually approach people Broom in Hand, and greet them in a very polite manner and then cash in on their sympathy. The Al Riyadh daily explores why is it that the street cleaners must turn to begging for money to make a living and what is the solution to put an end to such a negative practice which distracts those men from doing their jobs.[irp]

A Saudi citizen Abdulrahman Al Haqbani has stated that the street cleaners are suffering most of the time since the companies that have employed them rarely ever pay their minimum wages in due time. He adds that he has met several street cleaners and has asked them why they beg for money. The cleaners reply that their employers make them work 10-hour shifts and at the end of the month give them a salary of only SAR 350. Most the time, the companies also delay the payment of these wages for around three months at a time.  Some of the cleaners even resort to collecting empty aluminum and plastic from the garbage and then sell them to factories to be recycled.

There have been numerous instances when the street cleaners have organized protests and strikes to protest the delay in payment of their wages, however begging for money seems to be a preferable option as it is a fast way of putting money into your pockets. It seems as if the employers know that the street cleaners must beg for money, yet they choose to be silent about it as they do not want to pay them their already meager monthly wage. We must ask who is responsible for making sure that the street cleaners get their wages on time.

Another Citizen Muhammad Al Khelaifi further added that the street cleaners had resorted to begging since their employers do not pay them on time. He too had asked several cleaners about why they beg and the answer would always be the same; because their monthly wage payment was delayed for several months at a time. He added that they are forced into begging so that they can collect a little money and then send it back home to their families who are waiting eagerly.[irp]

In accordance to Abdullah Al Hissan, the supervisors of these street cleaners abuse their power and position and take advantage of the street cleaners. All street cleaners are encouraged to beg and then share the money with the supervisors. If any cleaner refuses, then he is threatened by the supervisor of being terminated from the job.

Source: Saudi Gazette