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Arabtec cuts thousands of jobs ahead of liquidation - sources

DUBAI, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Dubai-listed contractor Arabtec has terminated thousands of workers again in recent weeks, sources said, as the construction firm prepares for liquidation after the coronavirus pandemic deepened its financial woes.

Arabtec Holding shareholders in September authorised the board to file for liquidation due to its untenable financial position.

The company, which helped build the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, suffered a first-half loss of $216.18 million, piling up accumulated losses of nearly $400 million.

Arabtec has laid off more than 5,000 employees over two weeks, mostly labourers, two sources familiar with the move told Reuters.

Dozens of workers milling about in front of an Arabtec accommodation block in Dubai also said they had all been terminated in the past two weeks.

The workers said they were hoping to return to their home countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and India.

“[The men] only stay at home and waiting for their tickets now,” one worker said, near the gated compound. Several men said the company would provide the tickets.

Low-paid workers across the Gulf in industries such as construction commonly live in shared dormitories in company-run accommodation blocks.

Such workers generally have their visa sponsored by the employer -- a system referred to as kafala -- and so must leave the country if they lose their job.

The men said nobody in that particular accommodation block had work anymore, and that “thousands” jobs had been made redundant.

Arabtec did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Arabtec had a 40,000 strong workforce at the end of last year. In June, before the liquidation decision, Reuters reported 3,000 manual workers and 300 other staff had been laid off in the previous two months.

Sources on Sunday said Arabtec had brought in a senior adviser with state investor Mubadala -- which owns a 34% stake in Arabtec -- as its interim chief financial officer to help with liquidation plans.

Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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