Durban's 2010 stadium 'on track' despite strike

Construction on the Moses Mabhida Soccer World Cup stadium in Durban is on track and its delivery is not in jeopardy, the Group Five-WBHO Consortium said on Wednesday, hours after thousands of workers downed tools.

More than 1 000 disgruntled construction workers downed tools at 7am on Wednesday and began toyi-toying at the stadium after talks with management failed on Tuesday.

Msi Poswa, KwaZulu-Natal regional organiser and chief negotiator for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), said no agreement had been reached after 11 hours of talks with management.

“We wasted our time. We were locked in negotiations from 10am yesterday [Tuesday] until 9pm,” Poswa said.

Group Five’s Heidi Geldenhuys said on Wednesday that the NUM had tabled an “unrealistic demand for an across-the-board payment to workers”. She said management refused to entertain the demands in view of the “centrally negotiated three-year agreement covering terms and conditions of employment”.

“The union elected to walk out of negotiations on Tuesday night even though differences were not irreconcilable and despite management’s commitment to continue talking on Wednesday morning,” she said.

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

It is also demanding that subcontractors 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, Craig Jessop, Group 5’s KwaZulu-Natal MD, said that not all the subcontracting firms fell under the sectoral wage determination for the South African Federation of Engineering Contractors (Safec).

The union is also demanding that workers be allowed to elect a full-time safety-compliance officer as they are unhappy with the 15 safety-compliance officers provided by the consortium.

Despite the union’s complaints about safety, the Mercury newspaper on Tuesday reported that the R2,5-billion stadium had “scooped an industry award at the weekend for the safest building site in KwaZulu-Natal”.

The construction site scored more than 90% in the Master Builders’ Association Awards for safety in projects valued at more than R500-million.

By 2pm on Wednesday, Poswa said hundreds of workers were still toyi-toying at the stadium.—Sapa

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