Durban World Cup stadium strike looms

Union representatives and management of the company contracted to build Durban’s 2010 Soccer World Cup stadium will meet on Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt to avert a strike that would halt construction at the stadium.

The stadium is being built by a Group Five-WBHO consortium.

Both Craig Jessop, Group 5’s KwaZulu-Natal MD, and Msi Poswa, KwaZulu-Natal regional organiser and chief negotiator for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), said on Monday the two parties will meet the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in a bid to avert workers downing tools at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Wednesday.

Poswa said union members will meet the CCMA at 10am on Tuesday. “If no agreement is reached at the meeting, then we will go ahead with the strike on Wednesday,” he said.

He said the union is demanding project bonuses of R1 500 a month for each worker. Initially, R9 an hour had been demanded.
Last week, the NUM said it was demanding project bonuses of R1 200 a month, but Poswa said the union has “reverted back to R1 500 because management has not moved at all”.

“We know that the government is paying R2,6-billion [for the construction project]. We want to get a share in that,” he said.

The NUM is also demanding that workers be allowed to elect a full-time safety-compliance officer. Additionally, the union wants subcontractors to meet minimum wage requirements for the civil engineering sector.

Last week, NUM regional coordinator Bonginkosi Mncwabe said: “They [the consortium] agreed to it, but what about all the time they [the workers] have worked so far? There must be back pay.”

However, on Monday, Jessop said that not all the subcontracting firms fall under the sectoral wage determination for the South African Federations of Engineering Contractors (Safec). “Some of the workers are not governed by the Safec sectoral determination. There is nothing we can do about that.”

He cited the example of cleaners, for whom there is a separate cleaning workers’ sectoral wage determination.

Poswa said the NUM wants all workers on the project to be subject to the Safec sectoral determination.

Referring to the union’s demand for a safety officer, Jessop said: “There are already 15 safety reps on site. Why do you want another one?”

The CCMA issued a certificate of non-resolution last week Wednesday.

Jessop said the stadium is scheduled for completion in July 2009. He said that the NUM has an “18% representation on site”.—Sapa

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