A Yemeni labour court has ordered France’s Total and Britain’s G4S to pay millions of riyals ($1=330 riyal) in back pay and compensation to security guards who accused the two firms of abandoning them after the war sucked a Saudi-led Arab alliance into battle against the Iran-aligned Houthi militia.
Both Total and G4S, the French oil giant’s security service provider, deny ditching the guards, saying they had made sure they were properly compensated when official termination notices were issued before they left Yemen.
The guards say the two firms’ exit left their families without food and resulted in a complicated standoff in which at least three guards were killed in unclear circumstances while securing a Total Yemen compound where valuable generators and vehicles were kept.
The plaintiffs in the case have received international solidarity including from the Total labour union in France.
Their case highlights one of the indirect consequences of the war for thousands of Yemenis who had earned a living working for foreign investors in one of the poorest Middle East states.
The ruling is subject to appeal by both sides but with the country torn by war and lawlessness, some of the guards were sceptical they would be able to cash in on the decision.
The Yemeni Labour Arbitration Commission ruled that Total’s Yemen branch, Total EP Yemen, and G4S were responsible for back pay for more than 100 guards for a period starting in February 2016, according to a copy of the court ruling seen by Reuters.