No agreement in talks on Durban stadium strike

Industrial action is set to continue at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium for the 2010 World Cup following talks between worker representatives and the builders.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was locked in talks with building consortium Group Five/WBHO for nearly six hours on Thursday—but no agreement was reached, the union said.

“The strike will continue tomorrow [Friday] and talks with the consortium will resume at 10am,” NUM spokesperson Bonginkosi Mncwabe said.

Mncwabe said even though the union is committed to a resolution, it will not be stopped from carrying out a secondary strike—or demonstrating during the preliminary World Cup draw in Durban next week—if no resolution is reached by Friday.

“If there is no resolution tomorrow [Friday], the secondary strike will go ahead on Wednesday and, when the preliminary draw starts next week, we will tell the world what is going on here ... we will tell the world about the plight of our people,” Mncwabe said.

Workers at the stadium downed tools last Wednesday. The union 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 union members are unhappy with the 15 safety-compliance officers provided by the building consortium.

On Wednesday, about 600 construction workers marched to the Durban City Hall and handed a memorandum to eThekwini municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe, demanding that the city intervene in the dispute.

The NUM said it had issued notices for secondary strikes to major construction employers involved in the building of 2010 projects.

After the meeting on Thursday, Mncwabe said one of the issues on which progress had been made was wages.
“We agreed not to complicate the issue by releasing amounts to the media, but there are figures that have been put on the table. There are a few more things that also needed to be clarified about the amounts,” he said.

Mncwabe said the reason why no agreement was reached was because of the subcontracting issue. “They have made it clear to us that whatever agreement is made, it would not include the subcontractors—we have a problem with this because it means the majority of our members would be left out,” he said.

It was unclear why subcontractors would not be included in the agreement. “We are, however, committed to finding a lasting resolution,” he said.

Craig Jessop, KwaZulu-Natal general manager for Group Five, was not immediately available for comment.—Sapa

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