/ 14 November 2007

Union to strike at all 2010 sites

The ongoing strike that has seen construction workers down tools at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium could spread to other 2010 Soccer World Cup stadiums that are under construction, as well as the high-speed Gautrain.

And at a march through the Durban city centre on Wednesday, the National Union of Mineworkers’s (NUM) KwaZulu-Natal organiser Bonginkosi Mncwabe said there may be disruptions to the preliminary draw for the World Cup set to be held at Durban’s International Convention Centre.

The NUM said in a statement on Wednesday that it has issued notices for secondary strikes to major construction employers involved in the building of 2010 projects. Its actions comply with labour law, it said.

”While Group Five and WBHO repeatedly made statements suggesting an interest in talks in the media, they literally removed the initial offers on the table and refuse to bargain further. We are convinced, they are just not interested in talks,” said the union’s construction-sector coordinator, Bhekani Ngcobo.

He said that in terms of the impending sympathy strikes, the construction industry could come to a standstill with all 2010 projects grinding to a halt — including the Gautrain.

Meanwhile, about 600 striking construction workers marched from the Moses Mabhida soccer stadium to Durban’s City Hall where they were due to hand over a memorandum to city manager Mike Sutcliffe and to a representative of the World Cup local organising committee.

The workers — many carrying umbrellas in the intense heat — downed tools last Wednesday.


The NUM is demanding project bonuses of R1 500 a month for each worker and that subcontractors meet minimum wage requirements for the civil engineering sector.

It also wants workers to be allowed to elect a full-time safety-compliance officer as they are unhappy with the 15 safety-compliance officers provided by the consortium building the stadium.

Addressing workers outside the Durban City Hall, Mncwabe said: ”If no agreement is made, there will be disruptions at the preliminary draw next week. We must share part of the 2010 pie; the workers want it too. It cannot only be for the few holier-than-thou people.”

The NUM has accused some of the sub-contractors of paying their workers only R6 an hour, but this has been denied.

Craig Jessop, Group Five’s KwaZulu-Natal MD, was quoted by Business Day on Tuesday as saying that the starting rate is R11,98 an hour. He told the newspaper that there was a subcontractor that had paid less, but this has been adjusted.

Mncwabe said workers had been notified on Tuesday about the planned secondary strikes.

There was a heavy presence of both South African Police Service and eThekwini metro police officials during the boisterous march, but there were no reports of violence.

More than 3 000 Fifa delegates are set to converge on Durban from Wednesday next week, culminating in the actual draw being held on November 25. The draw itself will be televised live to about 170 countries, according to Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke. — Sapa