Durban construction strike continues

Dozens of 2010 construction workers converged on Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium on Friday to continue industrial action.

Talks with their building contractor failed to result in a resolution on Thursday.

Talks between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)—representing most of the workers—and the contractor Group Five/WBHO consortium are expected to resume on Friday.

The union’s Bonginkosi Mncwabe warned that if no resolution was met by the end of Friday, there would be repercussions next week.

“We are committed to a resolution, but if all else fails, we will not be stopped from carrying out a secondary strike—or demonstrating during the preliminary World Cup draw in Durban next week,” he said.

“If there is no resolution 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 is demanding 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 worker as union members were 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.

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 that had been agreed upon 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 sub-contracting issue.

“They have made it clear to us that whatever agreement is made, it would not include the sub-contractors—we have a problem with this because it means the majority of our members would be left out,” he said.

Group Five said that sub-contractors could not be represented by NUM but they did not explain why.

“We are however committed to finding a lasting resolution ...”

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

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